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Beetles freeloaded off ants 100 million years ago

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beetle in amber from 100 mya/Parker laboratory, eLife

So what, you say? Well, consider: We have no evidence that the relationship “evolved.” We are informed that we ought to see it as evolution but—as so often—we find the same patterns prevailing in the past, without any evolution. From ScienceDaily:

Almost 100 million years ago, a tiny and misfortunate beetle died after wandering into a sticky glob of resin leaking from a tree in a region near present-day Southeast Asia. Fossilized in amber, this beetle eventually made its way to the desk of entomologist Joe Parker, assistant professor of biology and biological engineering at Caltech. Parker and his colleagues have now determined that the perfectly preserved beetle fossil is the oldest-known example of an animal in a behaviorally symbiotic relationship.

Some of the most complex examples of behavioral symbiosis occur between ants and other types of small insects called myrmecophiles — meaning “ant lovers.” Thanks to ants’ abilities to form complex social colonies, they are able to repel predators and amass food resources, making ant nests a highly desirable habitat. Myrmecophiles display elaborate social behaviors and chemical adaptations to deceive ants and live among them, reaping the benefits of a safe environment and plentiful food.

Ants’ social behaviors first appear in the fossil record 99 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, and are believed to have evolved not long before, in the Early Cretaceous. Now, the discovery of a Cretaceous myrmecophile fossil implies that the freeloading insects were already taking advantage of ants’ earliest societies. The finding means that myrmecophiles have been a constant presence among ant colonies from their earliest origins and that this socially parasitic lifestyle can persist over vast expanses of evolutionary time.

“This beetle-ant relationship is the most ancient behavioral symbiosis now known in the animal kingdom,” says Parker. “This fossil shows us that symbiosis can be a very successful long-term survival strategy for animal lineages.” Paper. (open access) – Yu-Lingzi Zhou, Adam Ślipiński, Dong Ren, Joseph Parker. A Mesozoic clown beetle myrmecophile (Coleoptera: Histeridae). eLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.44985 More.

Note: “Now, the discovery of a Cretaceous myrmecophile fossil implies that the freeloading insects were already taking advantage of ants’ earliest societies.” So does that mean that if we are told, “Beetles evolved to live alongside ants,” we can object that there is no evidence for evolution of the tendency? Or is that Wrongthink?

If the structuralists are right, these patterns are governed by larger forces of mathematics, physics, and chemistry as opposed to natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism). Evidence for a structuralist view would be the immediate adoption of a pattern that works, as opposed to trial and error along Darwinian lines. So far, structuralism is a better interpretation of this relationship.

See also: Pest Insect Gets Plants To Transmit False Information To Other Plants


Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen

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