Transitional fossils illuminate early evolution of the ant-like stone beetle tribe Leptomastacini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Scydmaeninae)

Zi-Wei Yin*, De-Yao Zhou, Chen-Yang Cai, Alfred F. Newton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The ant-like stone beetle supertribe Mastigitae (Staphylinidae: Scydmaeninae) comprises nine extant and five extinct genera that exhibit unusual morphological specializations and ecological adaptions. Recent discoveries of mastigite fossils from Upper Cretaceous–middle Eocene deposits have significantly improved our knowledge of the evolutionary history of this group, yet a direct fossil record for two modern tribes of unclear affinities, i.e. Leptomastacini and Papusini, is lacking. Herein we describe a new genus and species, †Archemastax divida gen. et sp. nov., based on two well-preserved individuals entombed in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber (c. 99 Ma), representing the earliest known representative of Leptomastacini. †Archemastax possesses both plesiomorphic and derived characters, with a few important traits shared with extant members of Papusini and Clidicini. A data set of 70 morphological characters scored for 29 species of Mastigitae was analysed using maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference; both analyses recovered a sister relationship between †Archemastax and extant leptomastacines. However, in the former analysis Leptomastacini was recovered as sister to the remaining Mastigitae, while the latter indicated an origin of Leptomastacini from within Clidicini. Although a close affinity between †Archemastax and Papusini was not supported by our analyses, similarities in some shared characters of these two groups are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2042
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Systematic Palaeontology
Issue number23
Early online date11 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019


  • Burmite
  • evolution
  • Mastigitae
  • mid-Cretaceous
  • transitional form


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