Wealden Insects: An artist’s impression (Part 2)

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Biddy Jarzembowski, Neil Watson and Ed Jarzembowski (UK)

This collection of illustrations, the second in the series, continues with seven more watercolour insects from the Wealden.

Fig. 7. A damselfly of the extinct genus and species, Cretacoenagrion alleni Jarzembowski, on a horsetail from the Weald Clay. It belongs to its own extinct family, Cretacoenagrioniidae, which shows some resemblance to living Coenagrion (which is usually blue-bodied) and Lestes (typically metallic green). However, we chose neither colour and opted for red, which is sometimes seen in south-eastern damselflies.
Fig. 8. A true dragonfly belonging to an extinct genus and species, Angloaeschnidium toyei Fleck and Nel from the Weald Clay. This species of the extinct Mesozoic family, Aeschnidiidae, has distinct, dark-patterned wings. Female aeschnidiids display conspicuous ovipositors (pointed egg-laying organs like Panorpidium tessellatum, which was illustrated in Part 1 of this article). The body colour is therefore inspired by modern Cordulegaster, which also has a prominent ovipositor. The wings and legs have been repositioned or tucked away in this restoration, which shows the insect in directional flight.
Fig. 9. A bush cricket belonging to an extinct genus and species, Pseudaboilus wealdensis Gorochov, Jarzembowski and Coram, from the Weald Clay. It belongs to the now relict family, Prophalangopsidae, and has dark-mottled forewings used in singing (stridulation) by males. The body colour is inspired by modern Prophalangopsis and Cyphoderris. Sadly, the former genus, the only prophalangopsid with fully-developed wings as in the fossil, is now thought to have become extinct due to human action.
Fig. 10. A cicada-like bug on tree bark representing an unnamed species of the extinct genus, Ilerdocossus, from the Weald Clay. This species belongs to the extinct Mesozoic Family, Palaeontinidae, and has a distinct stripy headshield (pronotum). The body colour is based on modern Megacicada, which famously takes more than a dozen years to reach maturity – a long time for an insect.
Fig. 11. This double bill depicts a couple of extinct genera and species of unrelated insects on conifer bark from the Weald Clay. The larger one is a snakefly, Proraphidia hopkinsi Jepson and Jarzembowski, hunting the smaller aphid, Penaphis woollardi Jarzembowski. The snakefly belongs to the extinct family, Mesoraphidiidae, and the common name refers to the way these insects raise their heads like a miniature cobra before striking. The colours are based on modern raphidiids and bark aphids.
Fig. 12. A digger wasp belonging to an extinct genus and species, Archisphex boothi Jarzembowski. The wings are from the Weald Clay, but the body is based on Archisphex beiboziensis (Hong) from the Early Cretaceous of China. The colour is inspired by modern Bembix.
Fig. 13. A water snipe-fly belonging to an extinct species and ‘form’ genus, Athericites kensmithi Mostovski, Jarzembowski and Coram from the Weald Clay. This true fly was originally thought to be just an ordinary snipe-fly (Chrysopilus-like), but is now considered closer to living Atherix (Family Athericidae), which can bite and inspired the colouration. It is resting on a water-side horsetail stem.
Other articles in this series comprise:
Wealden insects: An artist’s impression (Part 1)
Wealden insects: An artist’s impression (Part 2)
Wealden insects: An artist’s impression (Part 3)
Wealden insects: An artist’s update (Part 4)

Further reading

English Wealden fossils, Palaeontological Association Field Guide to Fossils No 14, edited by David J Batten, The Palaeontological Association, London (2011), 769 pages (Paperback), ISBN: 978-14-44367-11-9.

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