Rhyniella praecursor

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Rhyniella praecursor
Temporal range: Pragian
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Entognatha (?)
Genus: Rhyniella
Species: R. praecursor
Binomial name
Rhyniella praecursor
Hirst & Maulik, 1926

Rhyniella praecursor (meaning "small creature of the Rhynie chert, a forerunner [of modern hexapoda]") is a fossil springtail (Collembola) from the Rhynie chert formed during the Pragian stage of the Early Devonian; for some time it was believed to be the only hexapod from the Early Devonian (c. 410 million years ago).

Its remains were discovered in 1919. Reconstructed from the scattered bits and pieces of its exoskeleton, R. praecursor was described in 1926, and at first believed to be a larval insect.

Mouthparts initially assigned to R. praecursor were redescribed as Rhyniognatha hirsti in 1928. In 2004, Rhyniognatha hirsti was found to be an insect, the oldest known to date.[1]

Rhyniella grew to a length of about 1-2 mm and would have been a scavenger, feeding on rotting matter.


  1. ^ Engel, M. S.; Grimaldi, D. A. (2004). "New light shed on the oldest insect". Nature. 427 (6975): 627–630. doi:10.1038/nature02291. PMID 14961119. 
  • Parker, Steve. Dinosaurus: the complete guide to dinosaurs. Firefly Books Inc, 2003. Pg. 74