Letter | Published:

Lower Cretaceous Lepidoptera

Naturevolume 266page526 (1977) | Download Citation



LEPIDOPTERA are rare in the fossil record and, until relatively recently, most fossil butterflies and moths had been found in Tertiary deposits. Records of Lepidoptera from earlier in the fossil record have been discounted1. The first evidence of a Cretaceous lepidopteran was Mackay's description2 of the head of a caterpillar in amber (about 72 Myr BP). Kühne described micropterigid scales from Cretaceous resin (about 100 Myr BP) from West France3, and several lepidopterous specimens have been found in Canadian and Siberian ambers of Cretaceous age (personal communication from A. Mutuura and A. Skalski), There is doubt about a much earlier record reported by Riek4. who described two insects from Triassic beds in South Africa and placed them in the Paratrichoptera, which he considered a suborder of the Lepidoptera. (Evidence to suggest that this material is not lepidopterous will be published elsewhere.) Thus the four moths described here, which were found in Lebanese amber dating from at least 100 Myr BP, are the earliest indisputable lepidopterous specimens.

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  1. 1

    Crowson, R. A. et al. in The Fossil Record, Arthropoda 499–534 (Geological Society of London, 1967).

  2. 2

    Mackay, M. Science, 167, 379–389 (1969).

  3. 3

    Kühne, W. G. et al. Mitt. Dt. ent. Ges. 32, 61–65 (1973).

  4. 4

    Riek, E. Ann. Natal. Mus. 32, 816 (1976).

  5. 5

    Acra, A. et al. L'Assoc. Libanaise Adv. Sci. Quatrieme Reunion Scientifique 7 (UNESCO, Paris, 1972).

  6. 6

    Schlee, D. & Dietrich, H. G. Neues Jb. Geol. Paläontol. Mh. 40–50 (1970).

  7. 7

    Schlüter, T. Naturw. Rdsch., Stuttg 29, 350–354 (1976).

  8. 8

    Cockerell, T. D. A. Entomologist 52, 193 (1919).

  9. 9

    Rebel, H. Dt. ent. Z. Iris 49, 185 (1935).

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  1. Department of Entomology, British Museum (Natural History), Cromwell Road, London, UK



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