Monday, 15 September 2014

Two new species of Froghopper from Dominican amber.

Froghoppers (Cercopoidea) are small members of the True Bug order (Hemiptera), related to Cicadas (Cicadoidea), Leafhoppers and Treehoppers (Membracoidea). They resemble Leafhoppers, but are smaller and more robust. Over 3000 species of Froghoppers have been described to date, they are found throughout the world and most numerous in the tropics, although tropical Froghoppers have not been extensively studied to date. Froghoppers are divided into three groups, the Clastopteridae, Epipygidae and Cercopidae (Spittlebugs), with the Clastopteridae thought to be the most ancient lineage. The fossil record of Froghoppers is not good enough to determine when the group diverged (all previously described fossils have been too poorly preserved or too ancient to place in any modern group), though based upon genetic data the Clastopteridae are thought to have diverged from other Froghoppers about 175 million years ago. The Clastopteridae are most numerous in the Americas, where they make up about 40% of known species, though all of these are placed in a single widespread genus, Clastoptera, the closest relative of which, the genus Iba is known only from three rare species from islands in Southeast Asia.

In a paper published in the journal Historical Biology on 3 January 2013, George Poinar of the Department of Zoology at Oregon State University, Andrew Hamilton of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Alex Brown of Berkeley, California, describe two new species of Froghopper from Dominican Amber. Both species are placed within a new genus, named Prisciba, from ‘priscus’ meaning ‘ancient’ and Iba, the modern genus. This genus is placed within the Clastopteridae, the first fossil genus placed within a modern Froghopper group, and the first genus other than Clastoptera recorded from the Americas. Unfortunately the dating of Dominican amber is poorly understood, so the specimens could be anywhere from 45 to 15 million years old.

The first new species is named Prisciba serrata, meaning ‘serrated’, a reference to the margins of the protonum (expanded cuticle on the first segment of the thorax). Prisciba serrata is 4.0 mm in length, mostly chestnut brown in colour with darker markings. It originates from the La Bucara Amber Mine in the north of the Dominican Republic. The single known specimen is female.

Prisciba serrata in (1) dorsal, (2) ventral and (3) lateral views. Scale bars are 1 mm. Poiner et al. (2013).

The second new species is named Prisciba dominicana, in reference to the Dominican Republic where it was found. Prisciba dominicana is 4.0 mm in length, chestnut brown, light brown and yellow. It originates from the La Toca Amber Mine in the north of the Dominican Republic. The single known specimen is male.

Prisciba dominicana in (4) dorsal and (5) ventral views. Scale bars are 1 mm. Poiner et al. (2013).

See also…


Cicadas (Cicadoidea) are large members...


Cicadas (Cicadoidea) are large members...


Leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) are small members of the True-bug order, Hemiptera, with hind legs modified for...


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