A team of researchers from the Capital Normal University in Beijing (China) and the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences in Vladivostok (Russia) has discovered a remarkable silky lacewing insect from the Mesozoic of China. The study has been published recently in the open access journal ZooKeys and is available for free download.
The extant silky lacewings (the family Psychopsidae) may be recognized by their broad wing shape, dense venation, spectacularly patterned and hairy wings. Today, this family is very small, restricted only to southern Africa, southeastern Asia and Australia, but in the Mesozoic, it was much more widely distributed.
The new fossil silky lacewing - Undulopsychopsis alexi - was found from in the Yixian Formation of western Liaoning Province, one of the most productive Mesozoic fossil-bearing horizons in China. The species is characterized by the undulate wing margin, a unique condition amongst known Psychopsidae, and a number of unusual characters of the wing venation.
"The most important trait of this fossil is that it shares the features of two different families of neuropteran insects, the extant Psychopsidae (known also from the Mesozoic) and the extinct Mesozoic Osmylopsychopidae", said the author Vladimir Makarkin.
This discovery is expected to shed light on the evolutionary history of lacewings related to the family Psychopsidae.
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More information: Peng Y, Makarkin V, Wang X, Ren D (2011) A new fossil silky lacewing genus (Neuroptera, Psychopsidae) from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of China. ZooKeys 130: 217-228. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.130.1576