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A complete insect from the Late Devonian period
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2012 (English)In: Nature, ISSN 0028-0836, Vol. 488, no 7409, 82-85 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

After terrestrialization, the diversification of arthropods and vertebrates is thought to have occurred in two distinct phases(1), the first between the Silurian and the Frasnian stages (Late Devonian period) (425-385 million years (Myr) ago), and the second characterized by the emergence of numerous new major taxa, during the Late Carboniferous period (after 345 Myr ago). These two diversification periods bracket the depauperate vertebrate Romer's gap (360-345 Myr ago) and arthropod gap (385-325 Myr ago)(1), which could be due to preservational artefact(2,3). Although a recent molecular dating has given an age of 390 Myr for the Holometabola(4), the record of hexapods during the Early-Middle Devonian (411.5-391 Myr ago, Pragian to Givetian stages) is exceptionally sparse and based on fragmentary remains, which hinders the timing of this diversification. Indeed, although Devonian Archaeognatha are problematic(5,6), the Pragian of Scotland has given some Collembola and the incomplete insect Rhyniognatha, with its diagnostic dicondylic, metapterygotan mandibles(5,7). The oldest, definitively winged insects are from the Serpukhovian stage (latest Early Carboniferous period)(8). Here we report the first complete Late Devonian insect, which was probably a terrestrial species. Its 'orthopteroid' mandibles are of an omnivorous type, clearly not modified for a solely carnivorous diet. This discovery narrows the 45-Myr gap in the fossil record of Hexapoda, and demonstrates [GRAPHICS] further a first Devonian phase of diversification for the Hexapoda, as in vertebrates, and suggests that the Pterygota diversified before and during Romer's gap.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 488, no 7409, 82-85 p.
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-179552DOI: 10.1038/nature11281ISI: 000307010700037OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-179552DiVA: diva2:545462
Available from: 2012-08-20 Created: 2012-08-20 Last updated: 2015-07-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Arthropod Assemblage of the Upper Devonian Strud locality and its Ecology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Arthropod Assemblage of the Upper Devonian Strud locality and its Ecology
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Devonian (419-359 million years ago) is the geological period when the terrestrial biota fully established. Early representatives from a terrestrial and continental aquatic biota have previously been reported from the Upper Devonian (Famennian) Strud quarry in Belgium, in the shape of seed-bearing plants and vertebrates (fish and early tetrapods). The palaeoenvironment is interpreted as a floodplain with slow accumulation of sediment in the river channels and adjacent shallow pools, subject to seasonal flooding and desiccation. This thesis presents the upper Famennian Strud ecosystem with representatives from the largest animal phylum – the Arthropoda. Pancrustaceans are dominating the arthropod assemblage by two eumalacostracans (previously described), three groups of branchiopods, and a putative insect, all collected in fine shales likely deposited in the shallow pools. The branchiopods from Strud comprise new members from all three extant clades, i.e. notostracans, anostracans, and spinicaudatan diplostracans. The notostracan Strudops goldenbergi is remarkable for its close resemblance with the extant genus Triops by the overall body plan and telson morphology. A phylogenetic analysis including modern and extinct notostracans and anostracans was performed, where Strudops appears as the earliest undisputed notostracan ever found. In addition, new genera of Anostraca (Haltinnaias serrata) and Spinicaudata (Gesvestheria pernegrei) are described herein. The insect Strudiella devonica consists of a single specimen and is interpreted to have been a nymph due to its minute size and wingless appearance. The chelicerates are represented by one or several species of eurypterids. So far unnamed juvenile eurypterid remains have also been found within the pool strata, and fragments of adult individuals in the coarser river deposits. The branchiopod community displays a unique insight to the ecosystem that these crustaceans inhabited. This is partly because of their co-occurrence, but mainly because they are preserved in close association to draught-resistant encysted eggs, in the same manner as modern day branchiopods do to survive and disperse during periods of drought and freezing. Altogether, the arthropod assemblage offers insight to Late Devonian freshwater ecosystems, and provides further understanding of the evolution of respective groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 41 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1245
Branchiopoda, Hexapoda, Eurypterida, Strud, Famennian, ephemeral pool
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Historical Geology and Palaeontology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-248153 (URN)978-91-554-9222-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-22, Axel Hambergsalen, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-04-28 Created: 2015-03-28 Last updated: 2015-07-07

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