Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Age-Old Parasitism of Rove Beetles Against Army Ants - Science

Marauding across the tropical forest floor, aggressive army ant colonies harbor hidden enemies within their ranks.  The impostors look and smell like army ants, march with the ants, and even groom the ants.  But far from being altruistic nest-mates, these creatures are parasitic beetles, engaged in a game of deception.  Through dramatic changes in body shape, behavior, and pheromone chemistry, the beetles gain their hostile hosts' acceptance, duping the ants so they can feast on the colony brood.  (Science Daily:  Convergent con artists: How rove beetles keep evolving into army ant parasites)

This image shows a symbiotic Ecitophya simulans rove beetle (foreground) walking alongside its lookalike army host ant, Eciton burchellii (left). The ant has a large round head, whereas the beetle has a flatter head.

Credit: Taku Shimada

I'm sure you already see the metaphor since the Rove beetles couldn't have been named more appropriately when he's another of the sneaks who represents the one percent of the upper class which vampirizes us all.  I was going to write an elaborate story but the jig would be up before I finished the first sentence to say the bug's name.

Ed:  a Rove beetle, you say?

Righty, right.

The parallels are many since none of us have ever resembled the one percent people and most or all of us would be insulted if you said we did.  It turns out the Roves split off from the warriors many millions of years ago and long before such biological relationships were fashionable.

Ed:  they still aren't or I would have a boat.

Roger that.

The ant-mimicking beetles all belong to the Staphylinidae, or rove beetles, but don't mistake them for close relatives: the last common ancestor of the beetles in the study lived 105 million years ago, at about the time that humans split from mice. "What's exceptional is that this convergent system is evolutionarily ancient," says Parker. Although most other convergent systems, such as Darwin's finches, three-spined stickleback, and African lake cichlid fish, are a few million years old at most, this newly discovered example extends back into the Early Cretaceous.

- SD

Based on this evidence, I therefore rest my case that those who present as the one percent are not actually the same species and differentiated from true humans over a hundred million years ago.  Moreover, that false species has not only feigned the right to live among us but has actively parasitized us through that time.  Therefore, I conclude the closest biological relationship on Earth for the one percent is in parasitic Rove ants.

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