Wednesday 5 June 2013

A Dragonfly from the Late Jurassic of Central Poland.

Dragonflies are one of the oldest groups of insects with a fossil record that dates back to the Carboniferous, 325 million years ago. They are large, predatory insects capable of snatching prey in flight. Dragonflies undergo partial metamorphosis on reaching maturity; the larvae are aquatic animals, similar to the adults but lacking wings.

In a paper published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica on 24 September 2012, Günter Bechly of the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart and Adrian Kin of Jagiellonian University describe a new species of Dragonfly from the Kcynia Formation at Owadów-Brzezinki Quarry in Central Poland.

The new species has been placed in the genus Eumorbaeschna, which has previously only been described from the Solnhofen Limestone of southern Germany. The Kcynia Formation at Owadów-Brzezinki has been described by Adrian Kin, along with Błażej Błażejowski of the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Marcin Binkowski of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Silesia described as the 'Polish Solnhofen' in a paper published in Geology Today in 2012, due to similarities in age and quality between the Polish fossils and those of the famous German Lagerstätte.

The fossil is named Eumorbaeschna adriankini, after Adrian Kin, one of the authors, who died during the preparation of the paper. This is a slightly unorthodox move, what has happened is that Günter Bechly has effectively named Adrian Kin as a coauthor of the paper as well as naming the species after him. This is nice, but technically contravenes international conventions on the naming of species (a rather legalistic process), which do not allow species to be named after the people naming them, which means that potentially the name could be challenged by another researcher and the species renamed.

Eumorbaeschna adriankini is described from a single right forewing, the pattern of venation on Insect wings being distinctive enough to classify specimens to the species level.

Eumorbaeschna adriankini, photograph and interpretive drawing. Bechly & Kin (2012).

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