Tuesday 18 June 2013

Four new species of Mantidfly from the Mesozoic of China.

Mantidflies, Mantispidae, are carnivorous, four-winged Insects related to Lacewings an Antlions. They have grabbing forelegs and large eyes, causing them to resemble Mantises, though the two groups have quite different origins; Mantises being related to Cockroaches and Termites. The young of Mantidflies live within Wasps' nests or Spiders' egg cases, where they grow by feeding on the hosts' young. The group have a fossil record dating back to the Early Jurassic, though these fossils are far from abundant.

In a paper published in the journal Palaeontology on 7 May 2013, James Jepson of the College of Life Sciences at Capital Normal University in Beijing and the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester, Sam Heads of the Illinois Natural History Survey and Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vladimir Makarin of the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences at the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Dong Ren of the College of Life Sciences at Capital Normal University, describe four new species of Mantidfly based upon fossils from the Jurassic and Mesozoic of China.

The first new species is named Archaeodrepanicus nuddsi, where Archaeodrepanicus means 'Ancient Drepanicus' (Drepanicus being an extant genus of Mantidflies) and nuddsi is in honour of John Nudds a palaeontologist at the University of Manchester. The species is named from three specimens from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation in Liaoning Province in northeast China. 

Two specimens of Archaeodrepanicus nuddsi. Scale bars are 5 mm. Jepson et al. (2013).

The second new species is placed in the same genus and given the name Archaeodrepanicus acutus, where 'acutus' means acute, a reference to the acute apex of the forewing. This is also from the Yixian Formation in Liaoning Province, but has a distinctive wing venation. The species is described from a single specimen. 

Archaeodrepanicus acutusScale bar is 5 mm. Jepson et al. (2013).

The third new species is named Sinomesomantispa microdentata, where 'Sinomesomantispa' means 'Chinese Mesomantispa'; Mesomantispa being a genus of fossil Mantidfly previously known from Siberia, and 'microdentata' means 'small serrations'; a reference to the small spines on the fore femur. The species is named from a single specimen from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation in Liaoning Province in northeast China.

Sinomesomantispa microdentataScale bar is 5 mm. Jepson et al. (2013).

The final new species is named Clavifemora rotundata, where 'Clavifemora' means 'club-like femurs', a reference to the forelegs, and 'rotundata' means 'rotund', again in reference to the forelimbs, which have a rounded prefemora (leg segment above the femur). The species is named from a single specimen from the Middle Jurassic Jiulongshan Formation of Inner Mongolia.

Clavifemora rotundata. Scale bar is 5 mm. Jepson et al. (2013).

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