The first Early Cretaceous damsel-dragonfly from western Liaoning, China

Stenophlebia liaoningensis 42.2mm
Credit: Zheng DR et al. 

In the Jurassic and Cretaceous, damsel-dragonflies widely existed in Europe (e.g., Germany, Spain, England, and France).

So far, only two damsel-dragonflies have been found from the Lower Cretaceous of China: one in Hebei and the other one in Inner Mongolia.

Recently, scientists found a new damsel-dragonfly in western Liaoning, China. In a study newly published in Cretaceous Research, researchers described a well-preserved forewing of the damsel-dragonfly.

The specimen was collected from the lower Yixian Formation of the Huangbanjigou in Beipiao, western Liaoning Province (47o 37’ N, 120o 50’ E).

It was examined with a Nikon SMZ1000 stereomicroscope. Photographs were taken using a Canon 5D digital camera. Researchers prepared line drawings from photos using image-editing software.

The specimen is currently housed in the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The wing was 42.2 mm long, narrow and short. The discoidal triangle was long and transverse in the wing venation.

Based on its morphological features, researches attributed it to the family of Stenophlebiidae (an extinct family of medium-sized to large fossil odonates from the upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous period that belongs to the damsel-dragonfly grade).

This is the first representative of this genus in China, the second in Asia. It increases the diversity of Stenophlebiidae during the Early Cretaceous in China.

Researchers anticipate that more fossils will be found in the future, which can provide insight into the evolution of this extinct family.

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