Beetle records: Late Tertiary and Early Quaternary records

Scott Elias, Svetlana Kuzmina

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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During the past 30 years, Quaternary insect paleontologists working in the Arctic have studied rare deposits of fossil insects that date back millions of years. Some of these fossils may be as old as the late Miocene. The fossils have been preserved mostly in permafrost environments, and their state of preservation is often exceptional. The vast majority of identifiable beetle specimens match modern, extant species. This morphological constancy through time appears to reflect constancy of physiological adaptations, as well. The latter aspect is demonstrated indirectly through the ecological compatibility of species found in the ancient fossil assemblages. While most of the species themselves appear to have remained constant, the biological communities in which they lived have shifted dramatically through time. Based on both insect and plant fossil data, Late Tertiary environments of the Arctic were substantially warmer than they are today, supporting the growth of coniferous forests, up to the shores of the ancient Arctic Ocean. By about 2 Ma or shortly thereafter, the precursors of Arctic tundra communities came into existence in parts of Beringia. Arctic insect faunal diversity declined markedly with the onset of Quaternary glaciations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Quaternary Science
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-0-444-53642-6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2013


  • Alaska; Arctic; Beetles; Beringia; Canada; Coleoptera; Greenland; Insects; Paleoclimate; Pleistocene; Pliocene; Quaternary; Siberia

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