Overview

Brief Summary

Raphidioptera (snakeflies) are regarded as one of the most primitive lineages of holometabolous insects, their fossil record dating back to the Early Jurassic (Grimaldi and Engel 2005). There is consensus that Raphidioptera forms a distinct clade together with Megaloptera and Neuroptera, the superorder Neuropterida. However, there is controversy whether Raphidioptera is sister to Megaloptera or to [Megaloptera + Neuroptera] (see Haring et al. 2011).

Nowadays, the active, predatory larvae of snakeflies are long-lived, with a high number of instars and distinctive hibernating periods, living under the bark of trees and shrubs or in soil detritus; moreover, their pupation needs a period of cold to break diapause, and the pupae are exarate and active, a plesiotypic condition within Holometabola (Aspöck 2002). Adults are arboreal and also predatory, but short-lived (ibid.), exhibiting a prognathous head, a long pronotum, and a long ovipositor in females, features that give them a snake-like appeareance.

The extant diversity of the order is relictual, as the Mesozoic diversity of Raphidioptera, as suggested by morphological disparity more-so-than total numbers, was greater than that observed today (e.g., Martynov 1925; Martynova 1961; Ponomarenko 1988, 1993; Oswald 1990; Ren 1997; Engel 2002; Engel et al. 2006; Perrichot and Engel 2007; Jepson and Jarzembowski 2008; Jepson et al. 2009, 2011). Moreover, while the group was once distributed throughout the world and in diverse habitats, today their range is contracted into the cold temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

The fossil record of Raphidioptera is comprised principally of compressions ranging from the Early Jurassic through the Miocene (Engel 2002). Snakefly inclusions in amber are far more uncommon (e.g., Carpenter 1956; Engel 1995; Aspöck and Aspöck 2004), particularly those in Cretaceous resins (Grimaldi 2000; Engel 2002; Perrichot and Engel 2007; Engel and Grimaldi 2008; Pérez-de la Fuente et al. 2010; Bechly and Wolf-Schwenninger 2011).

  • Aspöck H (2002) The biology of Raphidioptera: A review of present knowledge. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 48 (Suppl. 2): 35–50.
  • Aspöck U, Aspöck H (2004) Two significant new snakeflies from Baltic amber, with discussion on autapomorphies of the order and its included taxa (Raphidioptera). Systematic Entomology 29 (1): 11-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2004.00245.x
  • Bechly G, Wolf-Schwenninger K (2011) A new fossil genus and species of snakefly (Raphidioptera: Mesoraphidiidae) from Lower Cretaceous Lebanese amber, with a discussion of snakefly phylogeny and fossil history. Insect Systematics and Evolution 42 (2): 221-236. doi: 10.1163/187631211X568164
  • Carpenter FM (1956) The Baltic amber snake-flies (Neuroptera). Psyche 63 (3): 77-81.
  • Engel MS (1995) A new fossil snake-fly species from Baltic amber (Raphidioptera: Inocelliidae). Psyche 102(3–4): 187-193.
  • Engel MS (2002) The smallest snakefly (Raphidioptera: Mesoraphidiidae): A new species in Cretaceous amber from Myanmar, with a catalog of fossil snakeflies. American Museum Novitates 3363: 1-22. doi: 10.1206/0003-0082(2002)363<0001:TSSRMA>2.0.CO;2
  • Engel MS, Grimaldi DA (2008) Diverse Neuropterida in Cretaceous amber, with particular reference to the paleofauna of Myanmar (Insecta). Nova Supplementa Entomologica 20: 1-86. doi: 10.2317/JKES-802.19.1
  • Engel MS, Lim J-D, Baek K-S (2006) Fossil snakeflies from the Early Cretaceous of southern Korea (Raphidioptera: Mesoraphidiidae). Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte 2006 (4): 249-256.
  • Grimaldi D (2000) A diverse fauna of Neuropterodea in amber from the Cretaceous of New Jersey. In: Grimaldi D (Ed). Studies on fossils in amber, with particular reference to the Cretaceous of New Jersey. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden: 259-303.
  • Grimaldi D, Engel MS (2005) Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, xv+755 pp.
  • Haring E, Aspöck H, Bartel D, Aspöck U (2011) Molecular phylogeny of the Raphidiidae (Raphidioptera). Systematic Entomology 36: 16-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2010.00542.x
  • Jepson JE, Ansorge J, Jarzembowski EA (2011) New snakeflies (Insecta: Raphidioptera) from the Lower Cretaceous of the UK, Spain and Brazil. Palaeontology 54 (2): 385-395. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01038.x
  • Jepson JE, Coram RA, Jarzembowski EA (2009) Raphidioptera (Insecta: Neuropterida) from the Lower Cretaceous Purbeck Limestone Group, Dorset, UK. Cretaceous Research 30 (3): 527-532. doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2008.09.006
  • Jepson JE, Jarzembowski EA (2008) Two new species of snakefly (Insecta: Raphidioptera) from the Lower Cretaceous of England and Spain with a review of other fossil raphidiopterans from the Jurassic/Cretaceous transition. Alavesia 2: 193-201.
  • Martynov AV (1925) To the knowledge of fossil insects from Jurassic beds in Turkestan. I. Raphidioptera. Izvestiya Rossiiskoi Akademii Nauk, 6 seriya [Bulletin de l’Académie des Sciences de Russie, VI série] 19(6–8): 233–246.
  • Martynova OM (1961) Recent and fossil snakeflies (Insecta, Raphidioptera). Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1961 (3): 73-83. [In Russian]
  • Oswald JD (1990) Raphidioptera. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 195: 154-163.
  • Perrichot V, Engel MS (2007) Early Cretaceous snakefly larvae in amber from Lebanon, Myanmar, and France (Raphidioptera). American Museum Novitates 3598: 1-11. doi: 10.1206/0003-0082(2007)3598[1:ECSLIA]2.0.CO;2
  • Ponomarenko AG (1988) New Mesozoic insects. Trudy Sovmestnay Sovetsko-Mongolskay Paleontologiyeskay Ekspeditsiy 33: 71–80, 94.
  • Ponomarenko AG (1993) Lower Cretaceous snakeflies from Transbaikalia. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 252: 60-80.
  • Pérez-de la Fuente R, Nel A, Peñalver E, Delclòs X (2010) A new Early Cretaceous snakefly (Raphidioptera: Mesoraphidiidae) from El Soplao amber (Spain). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 46(1–2): 108-115.
  • Ren D (1997) Studies on the Late Mesozoic snake-flies of China (Raphidioptera: Baissopteridae, Mesoraphidiidae, Alloraphidiidae). Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica 22(2): 172–188, +2 pls. [In Chinese, with English summary]
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Distribution

Raphidioptera Distribution

Snakeflies are found throughout the Holarctic Region and are most concentrated in the Palaearctic Region.  In North America, the two genera that reside there are usually found in the western United States, especially in the Rocky Mountains and the southwestern deserts.  Two species are found in the pine forests of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Order Raphidioptera consists of two families: Raphiididae and Inocelliidae.  There are currently about 210 existing species of Snakeflies.

  • "Snakefly." Wikipedia. 2013. .
  • Capinera, John. "Snakeflies (Raphidioptera)." Encyclopedia of Entomology. 4. 2008.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:151
Specimens with Sequences:136
Specimens with Barcodes:109
Species:19
Species With Barcodes:16
Public Records:110
Public Species:13
Public BINs:22
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Barcode data

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