Mesozoic evolution of green lacewings (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae)

Publication Type:Conference Paper
Year of Publication:2016
Authors:A. Khramov
Conference Name:The 7th International Conference on Fossil Insects, Arthropods and Amber
Date Published:26/04/2016
Publisher:Siri Scientific Press
Conference Location:National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Today, the Chrysopidae is the second largest family of Neuroptera, comprising about 1200 species. The first green lacewings appear in the fossil record in the latest Middle Jurassic. The earliest record of Chrysopidae has been reported from the Daohugou locality, China (Khramov et al., 2015). Green lacewings are rather abundant in the Middle Jurassic–Early Cretaceous localities following their first appearance.Almost all Mesozoic green lacewings belong to the extinct subfamily Limaiinae, except for a couple of rare genera, whose subfamily affiliation has not been established. The cosmopolitan genus Mesypochrysa Martynov, 1927 and very closely allied genera, which are likely to be synonyms (Khramov et al., 2015), make up the majority of Mesozoic Limaiinae (>90% of specimens). Mesypochrysa represents the most abundant and widespread taxon of all Mesozoic lacewings. Seventeen species of Mesypochrysa have been described to date. Apart from the Asian region, this genus has been reported from the Early Cretaceous Durlston Formation (England) and the Crato Formation (Brazil). The only other well-established genus of Mesozoic Limaiinae is Baisochrysa Makarkin, 1997, which was also widely distributed throughout Asia in the Middle Jurassic–Early Cretaceous. However, in contrast to Mesypochrysa, Baisochrysa is known from very few specimens. The Upper Cretaceous record of Chrysopidae is scarce, with the single, poorly preserved specimen of Cretachrysa Makarkin, 1994 described from the Cenomanian of the Far East (Russia), which probably belongs to Limaiinae. The larvae of Mesozoic green lacewings are almost unknown. Only two Mesozoic chrysopoid larvae have been described: Hallucinochrysa Perez-de la Fuente et al., 2012 from Albian Spanish amber and a first instar larva from Campanian Canadian amber. Some chrysopoid larvae appear to be present in Early Cretaceous Burmese and Lebanese ambers. Limaiinae survived into the early Eocene as a minor part of the green lacewing assemblage, when they were probably exterminated by ants, which became much more numerous during that period. The larvae of Limaiinae could have lacked defense mechanisms, like trash-carrying behavior and high maneuverability, which are needed for feeding on aphids and other Sternorrhyncha protected by ants. It may be a reason why this predominantly Mesozoic lineage became replaced by the recent subfamilies of Chrysopidae.

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