Plant-Arthropod Interactions in the Early Angiosperm History
Evidence from the Cretaceous of Israel
By Valentin Krassilov and Alexandr Rasnitsyn, ed.
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
229 pages, Illustrated, 6 5/8 x 9 1/2"
Paleontologists just recently opened their eyes to the wealth of fossil documents relevant to plant-arthropod interaction and are busy now accumulating raw data. Perhaps the richest orignal collection of interaction traces came from the mid-Cretaceous deposits of the Negev Desrt, Israel, encompassing the time interval of the rise and basal radiation of angiosperms - the flowering plants.
The arthropod (insects and mites) inserting their eggs in the leaves and making lead mines and galls were discovering new possibilities for endophytic life that the flowering plants provided. Their morphological disparity suggests a diversification race, in which the angiosperms failed to override their leaf parasites.
Only a small fraction of insect diversity is represented by body fossils that belong to one extict and nine extant families of beetles and cockroaches mostly. Becasue similar structures are produced on leaves by parasitic arthropods of different systematic alliances, a purely morphological classification is worked out for the trace fossils, with but tentative asssignments to natural taxa, referring to distinct types of parasitic behavior.
It is the evolution of behavior that is documented by trace fossils. The body fossils and parasitic traces represent morphologies and behavioral traits fairly advanced for their geologic age. The expression, abundance, co-occurence, and host specialization of parasitic structures, as well as the marks of predation on mines and galls betray regulatory mechanisms of plant - arthropod interation, analyzed in the broad context of ecosystem evolution, paleogeography, and climate change.
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