Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny 76(3): 475-486, doi: 10.3897/asp.76.e31964
The head morphology of Micromalthus debilis (Coleoptera: Micromalthidae) - an archostematan beetle with an unusual morphology and a unique life cycle
expand article infoMargarita Yavorskaya, Thomas Hörnschemeyer, Rolf Beutel
‡ University of Jena, Jena, Germany
Open Access
Cephalic features of Micromalthus debilis were examined and described in detail for the first time. The head displays several seemingly plesiomorphic features compared to other extant species of Archostemata, especially representatives of Cupedidae and Ommatidae. Cephalic protuberances characteristic for species of these two families are missing and antennal grooves are also absent. The surface of the head capsule is largely smooth, without the characteristic tubercles found in stemgroup beetles and ommatid and cupedid species. Cuticular scales, probably ancestral for Archostemata and possibly for Coleoptera, are also completely absent. The arrangement of three mandibular teeth in a vertical row and an immobilized labrum are derived features shared with Ommatidae. The maxillary endite lobes are absent, as in the very small Crowsoniella relicta (Crowsoniellidae). Like in all other examined archostematan species, mandibular molae and prosthecae are missing. The simplified maxillae apparently play no role in the food uptake but rather function as accessory “ventral antennae”. Derived features include the partly reduced maxillary musculature and lack of extrinsic labial muscles. Apomorphies of the digestive tract include the sclerotized median protuberances of the anterior epipharynx and hypopharynx, and the presence of a vertical anterior pharyngeal loop and a subcerebral postpharyngeal pouch. The tentorium is strongly reduced. Consequently, all antennal muscles originate from the head capsule. A very unusual and possibly plesiomorphic feature is the presence of a short salivary tube and two associated muscles. This is a unique condition in Coleoptera as far as known at present. Structural features suggest that Micromalthus probably feeds on wood infested with fungi. A robust phylogenetic evaluation of anatomical features is presently not possible due to the lack of data for Crowsoniella (Crowsoniellidae) and Sikhotealinia zhiltzovae (Jurodidae). Moreover, phylogenetic and evolutionary interpretations are impeded by possible effects of vestigialization of adults possibly resulting from endosymbionts (e.g. Wolbachia, Rickettsiales).
Micromalthus, Micromalthidae, Archostemata, head, morphology