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Experimental degradation of helicoidal photonic nanostructures in scarab beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae): implications for the identification of circularly polarizing cuticle in the fossil record
Univ Coll Cork, Ireland; Sorbonne Univ, France; Milieux Environm Transferts and Interact Hydrosyst, France.
Univ Coll Cork, Ireland.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9229-2028
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2749-8008
2018 (English)In: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, ISSN 1742-5689, E-ISSN 1742-5662, Vol. 15, no 148, article id 20180560Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Scarab beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) can exhibit striking colours produced by pigments and/or nanostructures. The latter include helicoidal (Bouligand) structures that can generate circularly polarized light. These have a cryptic evolutionary history in part because fossil examples are unknown. This suggests either a real biological signal, i.e. that Bouligand structures did not evolve until recently, or a taphonomic signal, i.e. that conditions during the fossilization process were not conducive to their preservation. We address this issue by experimentally degrading circularly polarizing cuticle of modern scarab beetles to test the relative roles of decay, maturation and taxonomy in controlling preservation. The results reveal that Bouligand structures have the potential to survive fossilization, but preservation is controlled by taxonomy and the diagenetic history of specimens. Further, cuticle of specific genus (Chrysina) is particularly decay-prone in alkaline conditions; this may relate to the presence of certain compounds, e. g. uric acid, in the cuticle of these taxa.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROYAL SOC , 2018. Vol. 15, no 148, article id 20180560
Keywords [en]
structural colours; Bouligand structure; taphonomy; fossil insects; Mueller matrix ellipsometry
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-153537DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0560ISI: 000452108200012PubMedID: 30429263OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-153537DiVA, id: diva2:1273217
Note

Funding Agencies|Science Foundation Ireland ERC [SFI 16/ERCS/3904]; European Research Council [H2020-2014-StG-637691-ANICOLEVO]

Available from: 2018-12-20 Created: 2018-12-20 Last updated: 2018-12-20

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