A review of fossil evidence: ancient ants were behaviorally diverse even if less numerous than modern ants

Recent fossil deposits have more ants than older ones, suggesting that ants have become more abundant over time. (Figure 1 from LaPolla et al 2013) 

I’m too busy preparing for Belize today to blog properly, but I would be remiss not to point out this excellent new review of paleomyrmecology:

Abstract: The dominance of ants in the terrestrial biosphere has few equals among animals today, but this was not always the case. The oldest ants appear in the fossil record 100 million years ago, but given the scarcity of their fossils, it is presumed they were relatively minor components of Mesozoic insect life. The ant fossil record consists of two primary types of fossils, each with inherent biases: as imprints in rock and as inclusions in fossilized resins (amber). New imaging technology allows ancient ant fossils to be examined in ways never before possible. This is particularly helpful because it can be difficult to distinguish true ants from non-ants in Mesozoic fossils. Fossil discoveries continue to inform our understanding of ancient ant morphological diversity, as well as provide insights into their paleobiology.

Note that Dlussky, whom I picked on earlier this week, has well redeemed himself by co-authoring what looks like a significant paper.

Source: LaPolla JS, Dlussky GM, Perrichot V (2013) Ants and the Fossil Record. Annual Review of Entomology, Vol. 58: 609 -630

8 thoughts on “A review of fossil evidence: ancient ants were behaviorally diverse even if less numerous than modern ants”

  1. Hi Alex,

    What do you think about a blog post that highlights maybe your top 10 ento journals? Or journals which you consider to be publishing interesting or important articles?


  2. James C. Trager

    That was a fun read. Now I’m waiting for the illustrated field guide to fossil ants, of course with reconstructions of all the species in standardized poses. . .

    1. Vincent Perrichot

      Interesting that you ask such a guide, James, because you’re not the first to do so. But you might wait for a time before all the species can be reconstructed! 🙂

  3. Marc "Teleutotje" Van der Stappen

    I must say, it’s not a quick publication. I know that this article was already a few months ready for publication and the article about Boltonidris I didn’t know until you posted about it…

  4. Marc "Teleutotje" Van der Stappen

    Nice review and analysis but… Not finished reading it yet but I found already a few mistakes when they give wrong numbers for references and found on p 614 the Pseudoponerinae (???). But I must say their analysis of why some groups are considered to be ants or not is very good.

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