Jurassic scorpionflies (Mecoptera) with swollen first metatarsal segments suggesting sexual dimorphism

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Zhang, Yan-jie
Shih, Peter J. M.
Wang, Jun-you
McNamara, Maria E.
Shih, Chungkun
Ren, Dong
Gao, Tai-ping
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Springer Nature
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Background: Sexual dimorphism is widespread in insects. The certain specialized structures may be used as weapons in male–male combats or as ornaments to enhance mating opportunities. Results: We report striking swollen first tarsal segments in two families, four genera and six species of scorpionflies from the Middle Jurassic Yanliao Biota of Northeastern China. Swollen tarsal segments are restricted to male specimens and to hind leg tarsi. The geometric morphometric analyses reveal that the degree of swelling within the orthophlebiid species possessing swollen first metatarsal segments is species-specific, which can be used as a diagnostic character for taxonomic and phylogenetic studies. Conclusions: The new findings indicate that swollen first metatarsal segments are relatively common in the family Orthophlebiidae during the Middle Jurassic. The tarsal swellings are considered to be sexually dimorphic, potentially associated with sexually display by males and/or camouflage of a “nuptial gift” in the mating process.
Fossil insect , Holcorpidae , Mesozoic , Orthophlebiidae , Tarsal swelling , Nuptial gift , Yanliao Biota
Zhang, Y.-j., Shih, P. J. M., Wang, J.-y., McNamara, M. E., Shih, C., Ren, D. and Gao, T.-p. (2021) 'Jurassic scorpionflies (Mecoptera) with swollen first metatarsal segments suggesting sexual dimorphism', BMC Ecology and Evolution, 21(1), 47 (21 pp). doi: 10.1186/s12862-021-01771-3