Fossil water-penny beetles (Coleoptera: Psephenidae: Eubrianacinae) from the Eocene of Europe, with remarks on their phylogenetic position and biogeography



Abstract:  A species of water-penny beetles is recorded from larval instars from the Middle Eocene Messel pit fossil site in Germany. This species clearly belongs to the psephenid subfamily Eubrianacinae, but its precise systematic affinities remain unclear. It is the second fossil species of this taxon recorded from Europe. The holotype of the first fossil species, Eubrianax vandeli Bertrand and Laurentiaux, 1963, is lost. The high number of fossil specimens from Messel allowed discussion of stratigraphic and spatial occurrence of the eubrianacine species in the Messel pit, but its larval ontogeny could not be unravelled. Because of the high number of fossils and their wide occurrence, it is inferred that the species from Messel gen. sp. 1 was an autochthonous faunal element of the Eocene Lake Messel, which might indicate that some parts of the former Lake Messel had a shore area with stones. The analysis of the phylogenetic position of both Eocene eubrianacine species showed that their phylogenetic placement cannot be resolved because preservational influences limit the evaluation of characters. The historical biogeography of Psephenidae and Eubrianacinae is analysed and discussed. The fossil record shows that psephenid beetles have fossil members occurring outside their current distribution range, so interpretations of their biogeography based only on extant members can be misleading.