A whole range of tree-living non-avian dinosaurs evolved and established themselves in the branches and boughs of the world forest after the end of the Cretaceous period; they rapidly diversified into all kinds of different forms. About that time the social insects - the bees, wasps and ants - began to develop. These live in colonies, usually consisting of an egg-laying queen sustained and protected by an army of workers and soldiers.
The waspeaters are a specialized branch of the tree-dwelling coelurosaurs known as the arbrosaurs that developed at the same time and preyed upon the social insects. After the world forest was broken up by the changing climates and the spread of the grasslands halfway through the Miocene, the waspeaters became restricted to a number of tropical forest areas. Most species now live in the equatorial regions of Africa. Their long claws are an adaptation to a climbing way of life, and are also useful for ripping at wasps' nests. Their scaly hide has grown into a roof of overlapping plates, impenetrable to the stings of the insects. Similar wasp-eating vertebrates have evolved in the tropical forests of the Neotropical and Indomalayan ecozones. Many of these are related to the African waspeater, having become isolated in the various tropical forest regions. Others, such as the pangaloon of the South American Amazon Basin are only distantly related, and have evolved similar shapes by parallel evolution - the independent development in related or similar animals of similar adaptations to allow them to follow similar lifestyles.