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Open Access Research article

Transitional fossil earwigs - a missing link in Dermaptera evolution

Jingxia Zhao, Yunyun Zhao, Chungkun Shih, Dong Ren* and Yongjie Wang

Author Affiliations

Key Laboratory of Insect Evolution and Environmental changes, College of Life Sciences, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:344  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-344

Published: 10 November 2010



The Dermaptera belongs to a group of winged insects of uncertain relationship within Polyneoptera, which has expanded anal region and adds numerous anal veins in the hind wing. Evolutional history and origin of Dermaptera have been in contention.


In this paper, we report two new fossil earwigs in a new family of Bellodermatidae fam. nov. The fossils were collected from the Jiulongshan Formation (Middle Jurassic) in Inner Mongolia, northeast China. This new family, characterized by an unexpected combination of primitive and derived characters, is bridging the missing link between suborders of Archidermaptera and Eodermaptera. Phylogenetic analyses support the new family to be a new clade at the base of previously defined Eodermaptera and to be a stem group of (Eodermaptera+Neodermaptera).


Evolutional history and origin of Dermaptera have been in contention, with dramatically different viewpoints by contemporary authors. It is suggested that the oldest Dermaptera might possibly be traced back to the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic and they had divided into Archidermaptera and (Eodermaptera+Neodermaptera) in the Middle Jurassic.