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Haug, Joachim T. and Haug, Carolin (2019): Beetle larvae with unusually large terminal ends and a fossil that beats them all (Scraptiidae, Coleoptera). In: Peerj, Vol. 7, e7871

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Larvae, and especially fossil larvae, are challenging to deal with from a purely taxonomic view. Often one cannot determine which species the larvae belong to. Yet, larvae can still contribute to various scientific questions. Especially morphological traits of a fossil larva can be highly informative for reconstructing character evolution. Also the occurrence of specific larval types and larval characters in time and the disappearance of such forms can well be reconstructed also without being able to narrow down the phylogenetic relationship of a larva very far. Here, we report two new beetle larvae preserved in Baltic amber which are identified as representatives of Scraptiidae, based on an enlarged terminal end ('9th abdomen segment');this is only the third record of such larvae. In comparison to modern forms, the terminal ends of the two new fossil larvae is even larger in relation to the remaining body than in any known larva. Unfortunately, our knowledge of such larvae in the modern fauna is very limited. Still, one of the two already known fossil larvae of Scraptiidae also has a very long terminal end, but not as long as those of the two new fossils. These three fossil larvae therefore seem to possess a specific morphology not known from the modern fauna. This might either mean that they (1) represent a now extinct larval morphology, a phenomenon well known in other euarthropodan lineages, or that (2) these forms represent a part of the larval phase not known from modern day species as they have not been described yet;such cases occur in closely related lineages. In any case, the fossils expand the known diversity of larval morphologies.

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