Welcome to the inaugural post of the Coleopterists Corner. Over the coming weeks and months this blog will document my experiences as I begin graduate school and work on becoming a well informed and professional coleopterist. Frequently I will use this site to review interesting Coleoptera, systematics, and evolution literature. I am working my way through years of articles so some of these will be new but many will be older articles that I am reading for the first time. Towards that end I would like to bring everyone's attention to a fascinating article in the journal Cladistics.
F. Friedrich , B.D. Farrell , R.G. Beutel. 2009. The thoracic morphology of Archostemata and the relationships of the extant suborders of Coleoptera (Hexapoda). Cladistics 25(1) 1-37.
I will warn you that the first 30 pages of this article contain a very detailed discussion of the anatomy of the Ommatid beetle Tetraphalerus bruchii and descriptions of the 117 characters considered. However following this is a cogent discussion of the very early evolution of Coleoptera. The results of the study suggest a branching pattern of: Archostemata + (Adephaga + [Myxophaga + Polyphaga]). Furthermore the authors do such a good job of explaining the distribution of traits that you feel that it is an intuitive phylogeny rather than a strict character analysis. The last part of this article is especially interesting as the authors discuss the very earliest stages of Coleoptera evolution and then go on to describe some of the reasons that Archostemata may have declined beginning in the late Mesozoic. As someone who is just beginning to study the literature on the deep phylogeny of Coleoptera, this article is especially helpful since the authors discuss and reference a number of important past studies.
There is a pdf version of the full article on Dr. Farrell website at: http://insects.oeb.harvard.edu/farrell_lab/publications/biblio.html
The authors of this paper are participating in the Beetle Tree of Life Project. This project has various aims but one of the most interesting is to produce a robust phylogenetic hypothesis for the families and subfamilies of Coleoptera. To read more about this project you can go to the main page of the project at http://insects.oeb.harvard.edu/ATOL/