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Cretaceous weevils from southern Africa, with description of a new genus and species and phylogenetic and zoogeographical comments (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea)

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image of Insect Systematics & Evolution

The mid-Cretaceous weevil fossils from the Orapa Diamond Mine in Botswana are studied, and a new genus and species, Orapaeus cretaceus Kuschel & Oberprieler, is described. This fossil genus is placed in the tribe Eurhynchini of Brentidae and compared with the two extant genera of the tribe. With the discovery of Orapaeus, the family Brentidae can, for the first time, be traced back to Cretaceous times, and there is evidence that the brentid subfamilies and perhaps also the tribes were already differentiated by the Middle Cretaceous. By contrast, the modern families of angiosperm plants were evidently not yet established by then. In consideration of the palaeoflora of Orapa, it is concluded that the environment probably was tropical and the area well vegetated, but that no clues are present as to the likely hostplant(s) of Orapaeus. The differences between Orapaeus and the extant Eurhynchini suggest that the fossil insect fauna of Orapa is generally assignable to extinct forms, and these differences do not support a hypothesis of prolonged evolutionary stasis.

Affiliations: 1: 7 Tropicana Drive, Mount Roskill, Auckland 1004, New Zealand; 2: National Collection of Insects, Plant Protection Research Institute, Private Bag X134, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; 3: Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwaters- rand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa


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