Wednesday 18 April 2012

New species of Owlfly from Morocco.

Owlflys, or Ascalaphidaens, are members of the Lacewing order Neuroptera, closely related to the Antlions, (Myrmeleontidae). They are flying predatory insects that superficially resemble Dragonflys, though they are not closely related. About 500 species of Owlflys have been described worldwide.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 17 April 2012, Davide Badano of the Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and Roberto Pantaleoni of the Dipartimento di Protezione delle Piante at the Università degli Studi di Sassari describe a new species of Owlfly from the Anti–Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

The new species is named as Agadirius trojani, Trojan's Agadirfly, in honor of Ilja Trojan, a Czech entomologist who collected the specimen from which the species is described, and Agadir, the capital of the Souss–Massa–Draâ Region, where the fly was discovered. It is an 18 mm hairy black fly, with forewings larger than the hindwings and black fore-parts to the hindwings.

Agadirius trojani, the new species of Owlfly. Badano & Pantaleoni (2012).

The species was described from a single specimen found in a valley near the village of Aït Mansour, where a mountain stream flows through a rocky valley with a stand of Date Palms.

The valley at Aït Mansour where Agadirius trojani was found. Badano & Pantaleoni (2012).

Owlflys are an ancient group, dating back to at least the Jurassic. The larger group to which they belong, the Neuropterans (Lacewings), date back to the Permian, reaching their maximum diversity in the Jurassic, when they appear to have been the most abundant group of flying insects.

Fossil Owlfly larva in amber from the La Toca Amber Mine in the Dominican Republic. 33-40 million years old; Eocene or Oligocene. TerraTreasures and Adventures101.

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