Wealden Insects: An artist’s impression (Part 3)

Biddy Jarzembowski, Neil Watson and Ed Jarzembowski (UK) This is the third part of the mini-series in which selected Early Cretaceous insects from the Wealden of Southern England are restored in colour for the first time. The aim is to give a visual idea of the variety of British insect life some 130mya at the height of the ‘Age of Dinosaurs’. There are some notable absentees like butterflies, ants and bees – these had yet to evolve. Some insect groups are no longer found in the UK, such as termites, archaic beetles and silky lacewings. New insect species, including the first Wealden earwigs, have been collected during the geologically short time during which the figures were painted. Hopefully, these will appear in future issues. Fig. 14. A rare stonefly nymph or larva belonging to an extinct genus and species, Ecdyoperla fairlightensis Sinitshenkova, from the Hastings Group. Unlike in Asia, stoneflies are little known from the Early Cretaceous of Northwest Europe because of water quality issues – they prefer cool, upland streams not often found in the geological record. This species is based on a find made by collectors associated with the infamous Piltdown Hoax, but appears to be quite genuine. The restoration is inspired by recent Megarcys and some of the quartz pebbles are coated with algae. Fig. 15. A distinctive cockroach belonging to an extinct genus and species, Elisama molossa (Westwood). from the Weald Clay – but also found in the Purbeck Limestone Group. The colours were inspired by … Read More

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