February 11, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Oldest Fossil Insect Alleged

In a pattern that sounds familiar, an insect fossil has been found that (1) is the oldest ever discovered, and (2) shows that “winged flight may have emerged earlier than previously thought.”  Estimates put this fossil at about 400 million years old, among the first creatures to colonize the land.  Though wing impressions were not found, the specimens may have belonged, based on other detectable features, to an order of winged insects.
Source: BBC News, based on the finding by Engel and Grimaldi published in Nature.1  The authors say, “In fact, Rhyniognatha has derived characters shared with winged insects, suggesting that the origin of wings may have been earlier than previously believed.  Regardless, Rhyniognatha indicates that insects originated in the Silurian period and were members of some of the earliest terrestrial faunas.”


1Michael S. Engel and David A. Grimaldi, “New light shed on the oldest insect,” Nature 427, 627 – 630 (12 February 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02291.

Anybody see evolution here?  The first bugs are already bugs.  The authors make a valiant attempt to fit these into some kind of evolving lineage, but the discussion is all inference based on guesswork.  A set of disconnected links does not comprise a chain.

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