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Revision of the bizarre Mesozoic scorpionflies in the Pseudopolycentropodidae (Mecopteroidea)

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The Mesozoic family Pseudopolycentropodidae presently consists of seven described species from the mid-Triassic to the Late Jurassic of Europe and Asia. Pseudopolycentropus prolatipennis Whalley, from the Early Jurassic of England, is revised based on re-examination of the type. Four new species are described herein that add significant distributional and stratigraphic extensions to the family. Pseudopolycentropodes virginicus Grimaldi and Fraser, gen. n., sp. n. from the Late Triassic (Carnian) of Virginia USA is the first species of the family from the Western Hemisphere. Pseudopolycentropus daohugouensis Zhang, sp. n. from the Late Jurassic of China is very similar to P. latipennis Martynov, 1927 from the Late Jurassic of Kazakhstan. Four specimens belonging to two very similar species in mid-Cretaceous amber from northern Burma (Myanmar), Parapolycentropus burmiticus Grimaldi and Rasnitsyn, gen. n., sp. n. and P. paraburmiticus Grimaldi and Rasnistyn, sp. n., are the only specimens of the family from the Cretaceous. The amber species are exceptional, with the hind wing reduced to a minute lobe, the antennal flagellum modified into an arista, labial palps are lost, and – like the Late Jurassic species — the laciniae and what are probably mandibles are modified into a long, stylet-like proboscis. What the species with long proboscides fed upon is ambiguous, but it was doubtfully blood. Complete preservation in amber of morphological details, particularly the female terminalia, confirms previous views that this unusual group is phylogenetically basal to Recent Mecoptera.


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