[Non-Ceph] CONGRATULATIONS TO ANDY!!! New (old) species discovery!


TONMO Supporter
Nov 19, 2002
Please join me here in congratulating Andy Tenny (Neuropteris) on an amazing achievement. Andy has found a fossil wing from a Carboniferous insect that has just been published; not only is it a new species, but is a whole new genus too. One of our very own members has thus contributed greatly to our understanding of insect evolution!

Andy's discovery and description of the insect Anglopterum magnificum is detailed in this online pdf paper:


Anglopterum magnificum was a member of the palaeodictyopterida, the only insect order to have evolved that became completely extinct and left no living descendants. This huge flying insect had four wings and a wingspan of 30cm or so. With a beak which it probably used to suck sap from plants, it would have looked have somewhat akin to a huge vegetarian dragonfly with a pointed proboscis. The reconstruction below is of a similar insect, Stenodictya, which gives a rough impression of what Andy's insect would have looked like.

In Bits and Pieces Andy wrote:

Some might remember this from a post some time ago - back in 2004 I found this eye popping beastie in my local opencast coal mine. Was pottering about one sunday morning when I noticed a likely looking nodule had dropped from a block of mudstone that had been sitting on the tips for weeks. Thinking it might contain a nice fern or cone I gave it a tap and was gobsmacked by what appeared. Its now been described and not only is it a new species its a new genus! Anglopterum magnificum or Englands Magnificent Wing if my latin is correct. The paper "New homoiopterids from the Late Carboniferous of England (Insecta:Palaeodictyoptera)" is available on the web as a pdf file - google "Crock Hey" and it should be one of the first things to pop up. We're talking about a fly with a wingspan of about 30cm here. I am somewhat chuffed!

Well, once again, congratulations Andy. You are an inspiration to fossil collectors everywhere!!!!!

:notworth: :party: :glass:


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Spectacular achievement, Andy! Fossils and History is one of my favorite places to go here at Tonmo.com, and to have one of our own contribute so amazingly to the understanding of insect evolution is reason to be extraordinarily proud. :notworth: :notworth: :notworth:
No flies on Andy !:grin: & I'd love to see Carboniferous fly-paper.
Have I bored you all with the tale of my failed attempt to get my name in neon lights at the NHM off the back of a weevil ? It's really really interesting :lol: not !

Thanks very much everybody - I didn't expect it to create such a stir! My contribution is actually fairly limited - I wouldn't know a Palaeoydictyopteran from a blue bottle normally (though this was obviously not a blue bottle).

As regards the name I had no input - though I think its a very good name, thats all down to Ru and Andre though.

This year Anglopterum - next year a complete Meganeura?

Whats this about the weevil Keef?

Andy, have you got hold of Evolution of the Insects by Cambridge University Press? If not, you really should. It's an absolutely stunning work and was published last year; it contains half a dozen pages on the palaeodictyoperida and some stunning colour and b/w photos. Best of all, it is technical, but not too technical, if you catch my drift.

Keef - please tell us again about the weevil. I am still smarting about the rise and fall of my coal millipede. Let's keep trying, eh?
From the aforementioned book, here are a few snippets about Palaeodictyopterida (whew!) to help put Andy's discovery into context.

Palaeodictyopterida were an extinct superorder of insects and were the dominant insects in the Paleozoic comprising about 50% of all known species. The earliest fossils we have of this group date to the mid Carboniferous (320m) but after radiating into a diversity of specialised forms they all disappeared at the end of the Permian (247m). They were one of the very earliest insects to take flight following the rise of forests in the Devonian.

They are characterised by having two lobes resembling flight small flight wings on the front of the thorax forward of the proper wings and located behind the head. These were not articulated as fully functional wings though on a superficial glance, one may be mistaken in thinking that they were six winged insects.

Most species of these insects had a long beak which they used for puncturing plant tissues and sucking plant materials, this was in form and function much akin to the Hemiptera (true bugs, aphids, cicadas). They also had long segmented appendages in the tail (cerci) and long antennae. Unlike the Odonata (dragonflies) the nymphs of the Palaeodictyopterida were believed to have been terrestrial which indicates that the two groups must have developed independantly.

These insects were probably brightly coloured and would have been spectacular in appearance; striking wing patterns have been observed in some amazingly preserved Early Permian specimens from Kansas. These colours and patterns could have been used to confuse predators. In size some forms were enormous, Mazothairos reached a wingspan of 550mm (22 inches), second only to the very largest Protodonata (primitive dragonflies). Any stroll though a late Carboniferous forest would have been an explosive aerial riot of these amazing herbivorous insects, mayflies and predatory dragonflies; flashing colours and dancing forms.


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