A 100 million-year-old snake-fly larva with an unusually large antenna

 

Authors: Haug JT, Müller P, Haug C

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 95, issue 2; pages: 167 - 177; Received 4 April 2019; Accepted in revised form 19 March 2020; Online 16 May 2020

Keywords: Neuropterida, Raphidioptera, Cretaceous, Burmese amber, morphological diversity,

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Abstract

Snakeflies is the vernacular name of the representatives of the group Raphidioptera, an ingroup of Holometabola. The group Raphidioptera is rather species-poor, with only slightly more than 200 species. Snake-fly larvae are rather uniform in appearance and possess an elongate body; the trunk has similar appearing segments and lacks specialisations such as protruding structures. Such larvae are also known from the fossil record, namely from fossils preserved in amber that largely resemble extant forms. Here we report a new fossil snake-fly larva from Burmese amber. The specimen is very unusual in the morphology of the antennae. In extant snake-fly larvae, the antenna is quite short and thin, often inconspicuous at first sight on normal habitus photographs. In the new fossil, the antenna is much longer than the head and also appears very robust, comparable to the thoracic appendages. Together with another snake-fly larva previously described from Burmese amber, this find demonstrates that there were larval morphologies of snakefly larvae back in the Cretaceous that are absent in the modern fauna.