From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Alienoptera)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Temporal range: Aptian-Eocene
Simplified anatomical reconstruction of generic alienopterid insect.png
Generic reconstruction of an alienopterid adult
Aethiocarenus burmanicus.jpg
Aethiocarenus, an alienopterid nymph
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Superfamily: Umenocoleoidea
Family: Alienopteridae
Bai et al, 2016
Type genus
Bai et al, 2016
  • Aethiocarenidae

Alienopteridae is an extinct family of dictyopterans, known from the Mid-Cretaceous to Eocene. They are noted for their unusual combination of features not found in other dictyopterans.


It was originally assigned to its own order Alienoptera by Bai et al., 2016. It was reassigned to the dictyopteran superfamily Umenocoleoidea as sister family to the beetle-like Umenocoleidae by Vršanský et al. (2018),[1] and a more recent analysis similarly places Alienopteridae and Umenocoleidae as sister taxa within Dictyoptera, but placing both lineages outside of Blattodea.[2] A 2021 study revived the order Alienoptera for the clade containing Alienopteridae and Umenocoleidae, with a cladistic analysis placing Alienoptera as the sister clade to Mantodea (praying mantises).[3]


The majority of the alienopterid genera are known from the mid Cretaceous (latest Albian-earliest Cenomanian ~ 100 million years ago) Burmese amber found in Myanmar;[4][5][6][1][7][8] though an additional two genera (Apiblatta and Vcelesvab) are from the late Aptian Crato Formation (Brazil), and the two youngest genera (Chimaeroblattina and Grant) are from the middle Eocene Green River Formation (Colorado, United States).[3]


In a 2018 paper, some alienopterid adults were suggested as mimics of various hymenopterans, including bees and ants.[1] However this was mostly rejected in another study as lacking evidence.[9] A 2021 study alternatively suggested that some alienopterid nymphs functoned as ant mimics, based on morphological features that closely resembled contemporary sphecomyrmine ants, and suggested that the adult genus Teyia was also a wasp mimic, though mimicry in other adult alienopterids was rejected. One alienopterid nymph was found laden with gymnosperm pollen (probably from a cycad or a bennettitalean), suggesting that it consumed pollen as part of its diet, and that it also acted as a pollinator.[3] Alienopterid adults were probably predators adapted to moving through dense foliage,[9] with the small sclerotised forewings being an adaptation for flight capaciity.[3]


An undescribed species is also known from the Turonian aged Orapa kimberlite pipe sediments in Botswana.[1] Luo, Xu & Jarzembowski (2020) transferred Alienopterix and Vzrkadlenies, originally described as alienopterids, to the family Cratovitismidae.[10] A 2021 study later considered Alienopterix an umenocoleid instead.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Peter Vršanský; Günter Bechly; Qingqing Zhang; Edmund A. Jarzembowski; Tomáš Mlynský; Lucia Šmídová; Peter Barna; Matúš Kúdela; Danil Aristov; Sonia Bigalk; Lars Krogmann; Liqin Li; Qi Zhang; Haichun Zhang; Sieghard Ellenberger; Patrick Müller; Carsten Gröhn; Fangyuan Xia; Kyoichiro Ueda; Peter Vďačný; Daniel Valaška; Lucia Vršanská; Bo Wang (2018). "Batesian insect-insect mimicry-related explosive radiation of ancient alienopterid cockroaches". Biologia. 73 (10): 987–1006. doi:10.2478/s11756-018-0117-3. S2CID 52270212.
  2. ^ Liuo, C.-H.; Beutel, R. G.; Thomson, U. R; Zheng, D.-R.; Li, J.-H.; Zhao, X.-Y.; Zhang, H.-C.; Wang, B. (2021). "Beetle or roach: systematic position of the enigmatic Umenocoleidae based on new material from Zhonggou Formation in Jiuquan, Northwest China, and a morphocladistic analysis". Palaeoworld. 31: 121–130. doi:10.1016/j.palwor.2021.01.003. S2CID 234208413.
  3. ^ a b c d e Luo, Cihang; Beutel, Rolf G.; Engel, Michael S.; Liang, Kun; Li, Liqin; Li, Jiahao; Xu, Chunpeng; Vršanský, Peter; Jarzembowski, Edmund A.; Wang, Bo (February 2022). "Life history and evolution of the enigmatic Cretaceous–Eocene Alienopteridae: A critical review". Earth-Science Reviews. 225: 103914. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2021.103914.
  4. ^ Kočárek, Petr (2018). "Alienopterella stigmatica gen. et sp. nov.: the second known species and specimen of Alienoptera extends knowledge about this Cretaceous order (Insecta: Polyneoptera)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 17 (6): 1–10. doi:10.1080/14772019.2018.1440440. ISSN 1477-2019. S2CID 90147082.
  5. ^ Bai, Ming; Beutel, Rolf Georg; Klass, Klaus-Dieter; Zhang, Weiwei; Yang, Xingke; Wipfler, Benjamin (2016). "†Alienoptera — A new insect order in the roach–mantodean twilight zone". Gondwana Research. 39: 317–326. Bibcode:2016GondR..39..317B. doi:10.1016/
  6. ^ Ming Bai; Rolf Georg Beutel; Weiwei Zhang; Shuo Wang; Marie Hörnig; Carsten Gröhn; Evgeny Yan; Xingke Yang; Benjamin Wipfler (2018). "A new Cretaceous insect with a unique cephalo-thoracic scissor device". Current Biology. 28 (3): 438–443.e1. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.12.031. PMID 29395923.
  7. ^ Jan Hinkelman (2019). "Earliest behavioral mimicry and possible food begging in a Mesozoic alienopterid pollinator". Biologia. 75: 83–92. doi:10.2478/s11756-019-00278-z. S2CID 189776766.
  8. ^ Hemen Sendi; Jan Hinkelman; Lucia Vršanská; Tatiana Kúdelová; Matúš Kúdela; Marcus Zuber; Thomas van de Kamp; Peter Vršanský (2020). "Roach nectarivory, gymnosperm and earliest flower pollination evidence from Cretaceous ambers". Biologia. 75 (10): 1613–1630. doi:10.2478/s11756-019-00412-x. S2CID 210938183.
  9. ^ a b Wipfler, Benjamin; Kočárek, Petr; Richter, Adrian; Boudinot, Brendon; Bai, Ming; Beutel, Rolf Georg (2019-10-31). "Structural features and life habits of †Alienoptera (Polyneoptera, Dictyoptera, Insecta)". Palaeoentomology. 2 (5): 465–473. doi:10.11646/palaeoentomology.2.5.10. ISSN 2624-2834. S2CID 208129206.
  10. ^ Cihang Luo; Chunpeng Xu; Edmund A. Jarzembowski (2020). "Enervipraeala nigra gen. et sp. nov., a umenocoleid dictyopteran (Insecta) from mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber". Cretaceous Research. 119: Article 104702. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2020.104702. S2CID 228921647.