Eur. J. Entomol. 109 (4): 633-645, 2012 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2012.075

Is the Carboniferous †Adiphlebia lacoana really the "oldest beetle"? Critical reassessment and description of a new Permian beetle family

Jarmila KUKALOVÁ-PECK1, Rolf G. BEUTEL2
1 Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada; e-mail: jarmila_peck@carleton.ca
2 Entomology Group, Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie mit Phyletischem Museum, FSU Jena, Erbertstrasse 1, 07743 Jena, Germany; e-mail: rolf.beutel@uni-jena.de

Béthoux recently identified the species †Adiphlebia lacoana Scudder from the Carboniferous of Mazon Creek, Ill., USA as the oldest beetle. The fossils bear coriaceous tegmina with pseudo-veins allegedly aligned with "rows of cells" as they occur in Permian beetles and extant Archostemata. The examination of four new specimens of †Adiphlebia lacoana from the same locality revealed that the "cells" are in fact clumps of clay inside a delicate meshwork, and no derived features shared with Coleoptera or Coleopterida (= Coleoptera + Strepsiptera) were found. Instead, †Adiphlebia lacoana bears veinal fusions and braces similar to extant Neuroptera. These features support a placement in †Strephocladidae, and are also similar to conditions found in †Tococladidae. These unplaced basal holometabolan families were erroneously re-analyzed as ancestral Mantodea and Orthoptera. Homologization of the wing pairs in neopteran lineages is updated and identification errors are corrected. A new Permian beetle family †Moravocoleidae [†Protocoleoptera (= Permian Coleoptera with pointed unpaired ovipositor; e.g., †Tshekardocoleidae)] is described.

Keywords: Oldest beetle, Coleoptera, †Adiphlebia, †Strephocladidae, †Tococladidae, fossils, Neoptera, †Moravocoleidae fam. n.

Received: February 29, 2012; Accepted: May 10, 2012; Published: October 5, 2012

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