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GEOLOGICAL

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 432 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GEOLOGICAL HISTORY The classification just given has been drawn up with reference to existing insects, but the great majority of the extinct forms that have been discovered can be referred with some confidence, to the same orders, and in many cases to recent families. The Hexapoda, being aerial, terrestrial and fresh-water animals, are but occasionally preserved in stratified rocks, and our know-ledge of extinct members of the class is therefore fragmentary, while the description, as insects, of various obscure fossils, which are perhaps not even Arthropods, has not tended to the advancement of this branch of zoology. Nevertheless, much progress has been made. Several Silurian fossils have been identified as insects, including a Thysanuran from North America. but upon these considerable doubt has been cast. The Devonian rocks of Canada (New Brunswick) have yielded several fossils which are undoubtedly wings of Hexapods. These have been described by S. H. Scudder, and include gigantic forms related to the Ephemeroptera. In the Carboniferous strata (Coal measures) remains of Hexapods become numerous and quite indisputable. Many European forms of this age have been described by C. Brongniart, and American by S. H. Scudder. The latter has established, for all the Palaeozoic insects, an order Palaeodictyoptera, there being a closer similarity between the fore-wings and the hind-wings than is to be seen in most living orders of Hexapoda, while affinities are shown to several of these orders—notably the Orthoptera, Ephemeroptera, Odonata and Hemiptera. It is probable that many of these Carboniferous insects might be referred to the Isoptera, while others would fall into the existing orders to which they are allied, with some modification of our present diagnoses. Of special interest are cockroach-like forms, with two pairs of similar membranous wings and a long ovipositor, and gigantic insects allied to the Odonata, that measured 2 ft. across the outspread .wings. A remark-able fossil from the Scottish Coal-measures (Lithomantis) had apparently small wing-like structures on the prothorax, and in allied genera small veined outgrowths—like tracheal gills—occurred on the abdominal segments. To the Permian period belongs a remarkable genus Eugereon, that combines hemipteroid jaws with orthopteroid wing-neuration. With the dawn of the Mesozoic epoch we reach Hexapods that can be. unhesitatingly referred to existing orders. Froth the Trias of Colorado, Scudder has described cockroaches intermediate between their Carboniferous precursors and their present-day descendants, while the existence of endopterygotous Hexapods is shown by the remains of Coleoptera of several families. In the Jurassic rocks are found Ephemeroptera and Odonata, as well as Hemiptera, referable to existing families, some representatives of which had already appeared in the oldest of the Jurassic ages—the Lias. To the Lias also can be traced back the Neuroptera, the Trichoptera, the orthorrhaphous Diptera and, according to the determination of certain obscure fossils, also the Hymenoptera (ants). The Lithographic stone of Kimmeridgian age, at Solenhofen in Bavaria, is especially rich in insect remains, cyclorrhaphous Diptera appearing here for the first time. In Tertiary times the higher Diptera, besides Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera, referable to existing families, become fairly abundant: Numerous fossil insects preserved in the amber of the Baltic Oligocene have been described by G. L. Mayr and others, while Scudder has studied the rich Oligocene faunas of Colorado (Florissant) and Wyoming (Green River). The Oeningen beds of Baden, of Miocene age, have also yielded an extensive insect fauna, described fifty years ago by O. Heer. Further details of the geological history of the Hexapoda will be found in the special articles on the various orders. Fragmentary as the records are, they show that the Exopterygota preceded the Endopterygota in the evolution of the class, and that among the Endopterygota those orders in which the greatest difference exists between imago and larva—the Lepidoptera, Diptera and Hymenoptera—were the latest to take their rise.
End of Article: GEOLOGICAL
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