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Research Fellows Directory

Chenyang Cai

Dr Chenyang Cai

Research Fellow


University of Bristol

Research summary

Beetles, with 390 000+ living species, are one of the most familiar, conspicuous and morphologically diverse groups of insects. They emerged as part of a Mesozoic revolution in terrestrial biodiversity, long presumed to have been predicated on an explosive diversification of flowering plants. We aim to test this long-standing hypothesis by (i) analysing the finest details of amber-entombed fossil beetles using synchrotron tomography, (ii) integrating these insights into comparative analyses of the anatomy of living and fossil beetles, (iii) combining these data with gene sequences from living beetles to resolve their evolutionary relationships with their fossil relatives, (iv) dating the resulting genealogy using the very latest computational methods for establishing evolutionary timescales, and (v) comparing the timing of increase in numerical diversity and morphological variation exhibited by beetles and flowering plants.

Grants awarded

Beetle phylogeny, the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution, and the efficacy of molecular clock methods

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Jan 2018 - Jan 2020

Value: £99,000

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