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Haug, Joachim T. ORCID: 0000-0001-8254-8472; Haug, Carolin ORCID: 0000-0001-9208-4229 (2022): 100 Million-year-old straight-jawed lacewing larvae with enormously inflated trunks represent the oldest cases of extreme physogastry in insects. Scientific Reports, 12: 12760. ISSN 2045-2322

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Physogastry is a phenomenon occurring in Euarthropoda and describes an extreme inflation of (parts of) the trunk. It is best known from ticks, termite queens, or honey-pot ants, but can also be found in several other representatives of Euarthropoda. Physogastry has so far rarely been seen in the fossil record. We describe here an example of physogastry in two lacewing larvae (Neuroptera) enclosed in a single piece of Kachin amber (ca. 100 Ma old). We measured head and trunk ratios of different physogastric and non-physogastric representatives of Euarthropoda. Plotting these ratios shows that the new larvae, which display quite extremely inflated trunks, are very similar to ticks or honey-pot ants, but also to certain lacewing larvae of the group Berothidae (beaded lacewings). Outline analysis of head capsule and mouthparts (stylets) further suggests a position within Berothidae. Physogastry is presumed to be linked with living in confined spaces such as wood galleries or soil. Indeed, at least some larvae of Berothidae are known to live inside termite nests for part of their larval life phase, a habit the new larvae may also have had. The new record represents the oldest case of extreme physogastry in insects known to date.

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