Order Diptera, Suborder Nematocera
Time: Lower Cretaceous (~125-121 m.y.a.)
Insect fossil is 13 mm long with wings, on shale 110 mm across at
Site: Yixian Formation, Huangbangi Valley, Beipiao, Liaoning Province
Formation in Liaoning
Province in northeast China has remained one of the hottest paleontology
study sites on earth the past two decades, and is
perhaps most famous for discoveries of feathered dinosaurs.
dinosaurs to birds to
reptiles with color patterns, the fine lake
silts of Liaoning preserved the most intricate of life from more
than 100 million years ago. Relatively hard to preserve insects
are well represented in the diverse Liaoning biota.
Dipteran fossil is a gnat with many fine details preserved.
It has been estimated that one million midges weigh one pound.
Amazing then that such a tiny critter can be so pesty to humans,
as they probably were to creatures of the Cretaceous. Amazing
too that so delicate an animal could be so well preserved in
the fine silt that formed Yixian. The piece of shale also contains
a number of less well preserved insects and the ubuiquitous
small fresh water clams common at the site.
Diptera comprise mosquitoes, gnats, midges and others flies.
This huge insect order is estimated to have
species. Diptera are hypothsized to have evolved from Mecoptera
with the first true Dipterans known from the fossil record
Click to enlarge