New paper published in Proceedings B on insect colour patterns

20 Sep 2023

This paper was led by Dr Shengyu Wang, who completed part of the work on the paper during a research visit to UCC.

In this study, we conducted thermal maturation experiments on modern insects, in order to study how their colour patterns are degraded by the effects of heating. We found that during progressive heating, colour patterns are initially lost as cuticles turn black, but then reappear at higher temperatures as melanin-rich cuticle regions persist but melanin-poor cuticle preferentially degrades. We also found that the temperature thresholds for these changes are different for insect species with cuticles of different thickness. Therefore, when studying fossil insect biotas, the absence of colour patterns in certain species may be an artefact of fossilization.

The paper can be accessed here:

Wang, S.McNamara, M.E., Wang, B., Hui, H., Jiang, B., 2023. The origins of colour patterns in fossil insects revealed by maturation experiments. Proceedings B290, 20231333. DOI: THE PDF HERE: Wang_et_al_2023_Proc_B_The_origins_of_colour_patterns.pdf

Maria McNamara Research Group

Experimental and analytical taphonomy

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University College Cork (UCC), Butler Building, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, T23 TK30, Ireland