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Temporal range: Pragian
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Entognatha (?)
Genus: Rhyniella
R. praecursor
Binomial name
Rhyniella praecursor

Rhyniella is a genus of fossil springtails (Collembola) from the Rhynie chert, which formed during the Pragian stage of the Early Devonian. One species has been described, Rhyniella praecursor. Its name means "small creature of the Rhynie chert, a forerunner [of modern hexapoda]". 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.[1]

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.[2]

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


  1. ^ Hirst, Stanley; Maulik, S. (1926). "On some Arthropod Remains from the Rhynie Chert (Old Red Sandstone)". 63 (2): 69–71. doi:10.1017/S0016756800083692. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ 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