Neuroptera: Greater Insect Diversity in the Cretaceous Period
Published:08 May2023    Source:Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
The researchers measured the heads of more than 1,000 larvae, including all the nearly 300 fossilized neuroptera larvae that are known worldwide and 800 specimens that are still alive today. In this way, they were able to confirm that the diversity of neuroptera larvae has indeed declined in the last 100 million years.
“Although our glance into the past is limited to a small sample size and very specific regions around the globe, we can nevertheless detect greater morphological diversity among neuroptera larvae in the Cretaceous period,” Carolin Haug says. “So, it is probable that actual diversity was in fact substantially greater in the past.” However, the overall picture of neuroptera history is complex: Whereas their diversity as a whole has definitely decreased, some neuroptera lines have diversified and thus gained in importance.

“Our work also showed how much potential lies in the morphological study of insect larvae,” Carolin Haug adds. “Quantitative morphology can reveal changes that cannot be quantitatively recorded within a taxonomic framework.”