Summary of the fossil record of megalopteran and megalopteran-like larvae, with a report of new specimens


Authors: Baranov V, Haug C, Fowler M, Kaulfuss U, Müller P, Haug JT

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 97, issue 1; pages: 89 - 108; Received 27 July 2021; Accepted in revised form 13 December 2021; Online 23 January 2022

Keywords: Megaloptera; Myanmar amber, Foulden Maar, Green River, Eocene, Cretaceous,

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Megaloptera is one of the smaller (about 400 modern species) monophyletic ingroups of Holometabola, including fishflies, dobsonflies and alderflies. All these are united by a very similar morphology, a distinct merolimnic lifecycle (aquatic larva, terrestrial pupa and adult) and by the short lifespan of the winged adults. Megaloptera is generally considered to be sister group to Neuroptera within Neuropterida. Unfortunately, the fossil record of the group is extremely scarce. Here we review the fossil record of megalopteran larvae; due to the long-lasting larval phase, one could argue that this is, in fact, the life phase with the largest ecological impact. Larvae of megalopterans are even rarer in the fossil record. Interestingly, many known larvae are preserved in amber, despite their aquatic lifestyle. Moreover, we report new specimens, including a fossil from the Miocene Foulden Maar of New Zealand, the Eocene Green River Formation, as well as different specimens preserved in amber from the Cretaceous of Myanmar. The New Zealand specimen resembles larvae of Sialidae. The Green River specimen could be a representative of Sialidae. A larger, partly incomplete amber specimen could be a representative of Corydalidae. Several small amber specimens resemble early larval stages of Chauliodinae, but also differ in important aspects. We discuss what the scarce fossil record of megalopteran larvae can tell us about their palaeo-biology and environment.


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