Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 423-428, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.055

Reconstructing a 55-million-year-old butterfly (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)

Rienk DE JONG
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, PO Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands; e-mail: rienk.dejong@naturalis.nl

The oldest butterfly fossil known, which was formed about 55 Ma in what is now Denmark, is described. The fragments of its forewing venation indicates it belongs to the Hesperiidae. Further reconstruction indicates that it fits in the Coeliadinae and is close to the extant genera Hasora and Burara. It is here described as Protocoeliades kristenseni gen. et sp. n. It is the first butterfly fossil found on a continent (Europe) where its closest relatives do not currently occur. Its position on the phylogenetic tree of the Coeliadinae and its importance in understanding the time dimension in the evolution of butterflies, and their ecological and biogeographic implications are discussed.

Keywords: Fossil, oldest butterfly, Hesperiidae, Protocoeliades kristenseni, new genus, new species, divergence time, evolution, biogeography

Received: February 23, 2016; Accepted: May 17, 2016; Published online: August 9, 2016

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