Allodapine bees provide unique insights into social evolution because their method of provisioning brood in communal chambers differs from nearly all other social insects except ants. This method of brood rearing in allodapines is associated with the evolution of remarkable larval morphologies. Interestingly, allodapine larval morphology corresponds closely to phylogeny, more so than adult morphology. Here we describe a very unusual form of larval morphology in an African allodapine bee, Compsomelissa zaxantha, and show that this corresponds with phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequence data indicating that this species is much more closely allied with the genus Allodapula, but represents an evolutionary clade that differs strongly from currently described subgenera of Allodapula. We erect a new subgenus, Mhkuze, to contain this species and discuss the implications of this species for understanding the radiation in allodapine larval morphology.
- larval morphology