The weevil subfamily Scolytinae includes at least seven groups of regularly sib-mating species with extremely female-biased offspring sex ratios. The enigmatic SE-Asian bark beetle genus Ozopemon (25 spp.) belong to the most diversified clade (>1400 spp.) of such ancient inbreeding lineages. While males of all sib-mating scolytines are flightless, and are usually dwarfed versions of their larger sisters, the existence of males in Ozopemon has been a controversial issue. Some strangely modified male beetles, with fully developed aedeagus, strongly flattened pronotum and bead, and 10-segmented larviform abdomen, were first described as males of O.brownei, but were later assigned to the Histeridae. With the new evidence provided here, based on DNA sequence data from mitochondrial and nuclear gene partitions, and examination of genitalic characters, we re-assign these males, as well as males for two more species, to Ozopemon. Neoteny evolved close to the origin of sib-mating and possibly haplodiploidy, but the transition to neoteny occurred separately from all other inbreeding dryocoetine and xyleborine beetles. The neotenic development of these males is the first known example in Coleoptera, and several remarkable morphological modifications demonstrate an ontogenetic transformation series from female to males of different species. We discuss possible scenarios for the evolution of neoteny, precocity and fighting characteristics in these male beetles, in the light of W. D. Hamilton's 'ideal biofacies' of extreme inbreeding. (C) 2002 The Linnean Society of London.
536HVTimes Cited:26Cited References Count:32