Hunting for Hetaerius II

Still flipping sandstone slabs that hug the ground. We were finding the appropriate Camponotus sp. but no sign of Hetaerius yet.

On the flip-side, Taro finds more Reticulitermes guests.

Trichopsenius sp. is a limuloid (tear-drop shaped) termitophile. They are able to mimic host odors and remain undetected.

Trichopsenius is an early diverging lineage of aleocharine rove beetles, and lack the abdominal defensive gland, which is a synapomorphy for all higher aleocharines. The tribe that this genus is a type for, has the hind coxa fused to the metasternum, and the trochanter articulates directly with the body. I don’t quite understand the functional significance of this morphological modification, but possible allowing more compact lateral swinging motions of the hind legs. This may be adaptive for termitophiles (the tribe is entirely termitophilous) for maintaining a low profile while scavenging the nest.

Interestingly, all lower aleocharines that are obligatory inquilines, are always termitophiles. Termites are a slightly older lineage compared to ants. Could this pattern signify a larger temporal evolutionary phenomenon?


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