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Haug, Carolin; Haug, Gideon T.; Baranov, Viktor A.; Solorzano-Kraemer, Monica M. and Haug, Joachim T. (2021): An owlfly larva preserved in Mexican amber and the Miocene record of lacewing larvae. In: Boletín De La Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, Vol. 73, No. 3, A271220

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Neuroptera (lacewings) is today a rather small lineage of Holometabola. These representatives of Insecta have mostly predatory larvae with prominent venom-injecting stylets formed by upper and lower jaws. These impressive larvae can be found not only in the modern fauna, but sometimes also as fossils, predominantly preserved in amber. Here we report a new specimen of a lacewing larva from Miocene Mexican amber, most likely a larva of an owlfly (Ascalaphidae) with large prominent stylets, each with three teeth. These stylets arise from a more or less square-shaped head (in dorsal view) that has distinct eye hills with at least three simple eyes (stemmata) each. The trunk is rather short. Trunk segments possess finger-like protrusions carrying numerous setae, which could have been used to attach camouflaging debris to it. Remarkably, the specimen represents only the second report of a lacewing from Miocene Mexican amber, and the first larva. Additionally, we review the Miocene record of lacewing larvae. It includes otherwise only fossils preserved in Dominican amber and remains rather scarce, with only eight specimens in the literature so far. While there seem to be additional specimens in private collections, the overall number is astonishingly low compared to the numbers in Eocene and Cretaceous ambers. Ecological and taphonomic factors possibly explaining the rarity of lacewing larvae in Miocene amber are discussed here.

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