Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2020-10-30

The oldest record of window fly supports a Gondwanan origin of the family (Diptera: Scenopinidae)

Univ. Rennes, CNRS, Geosciences Rennes, UMR 6118, F-35000, Rennes, France
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB) Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, EPHE, Université des Antilles, CP50, 57 rue Cuvier 75005 Paris, France
Diptera Scenopinidae Palaeobiogeography Burmese amber fossil record Proratinae mid-Cretaceous


Palaeobiogeographic hypotheses need to be based on accurate palaeomaps and phylogenies of the concerned clades with a fossil record as complete as possible. Here we re-analyse the palaeobiogeography of the small fly family Scenopinidae, based on its first record in the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber that we describe herein as Burmaprorates alagracilis gen. et sp. nov. and we assign to the subfamily Proratinae. At that time, the corresponding palaeobiota was an isolated island in the Southern part of the Tethys Ocean far away from the Laurasian plate and with general wind circulation unfavorable for aerial transport from Laurasia to the “Burmese Terrane”. Our results challenge and question the hypothesis of a North-Central American origin for the Scenopinidae at the beginning of the Cretaceous, and support a new hypothesis of a South Gondwanan origin.


  1. Bezerra, F.I., Mendes, M. & De Souza, O. (2020) New record of Mastotermitidae from Fonseca Basin, Eocene-Oligocene boundary of southeastern Brazil. Biologia.

    Bezzi, M. (1925) Quelques notes sur les Bombyliides (Dipt.) d’Egypte, avec description d’espèces nouvelles. Bulletin de la Société Royale Entomologique d’Egypte, 8, 159–242.

    Cruickshank, R.D. & Ko, K. (2003) Geology of an amber locality in the Hukawng Valley, northern Myanmar. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 21, 441–455.

    Cumming, J.M. & Wood, D.M. (2017) Adult morphology and terminology. In: Kirk-Spriggs, A.H. & Sinclair, B.J. (Eds), Manual of Afrotropical Diptera, Volume 1. Introductory chapters and keys to Diptera families. Suricata, 4, 89–134.

    Demers-Potvin, A.V., Szwedo, J., Paragnani, C.P. & Larsson, H.C.E. (2020) First North American occurrence of hairy cicadas discovered in the Cenomanian (Late Cretaceous) of Labrador, Canada. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 65, 85–98.

    Ezcurra, M.D. & Agnolin, F.L. (2012) A new global palaeobiogeographical model for the Late Mesozoic and Early Tertiary. Systematic Biology, 61, 553–566.

    Fallén, C.F. (1817) Dispositio dipterorum synoptica. Berlingianis, Lundae [= Lund], 12 pp.

    Garrouste, R., Azar, D. & Nel, A. (2016) The oldest accurate record of Scenopinidae in the Lowermost Eocene amber of France (Diptera: Brachycera). Zootaxa, 4093 (3), 444–450.

    Grimaldi, D.A. & Cumming, J.M. (1999) Brachyceran Diptera in Cretaceous ambers and Mesozoic diversification of the Eremoneura. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 239, 1–121.

    Grimaldi, D. & Ross, A. (2017) Extraordinary Lagerstätten in amber, with particular reference to the Cretaceous of Burma. In: Fraser, N.C. & Sues, H.-D. (Eds), Terrestrial conservation Lagerstätten: Windows into the evolution of life on land. Dunedin Academic Press, Edinburgh, pp. 287–342.

    Hall, J.C. (1972) New North American Heterotropinae (Diptera: Bombyliidae). The Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 48, 37–50.

    Hay, W.W. & Floegel, S. (2012) New thoughts about the Cretaceous climate and oceans. Earth-Science Reviews, 115, 262–272.

    Heine, C. & Müller, R.D. (2005) Late Jurassic rifting along the Australian North West Shelf: margin geometry and spreading ridge configuration. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 52, 27–39.

    Heine, C., Müller, R.D. & Gaina, C. (2004) Reconstructing the lost eastern Tethys ocean basin: convergence history of the SE Asian margin and marine gateways. Geophysical Monograph Series, 149, 1–18.

    Kelsey, L.P. (1975) New Australian Scenopinidae (Diptera). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, 14, 197–212.

    Kelsey, L.P. (1987) New Australian Scenopinidae (Diptera) IV. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, 26, 1–32.

    Krishna, K., Engel, M.S., Grimaldi, D.A. & Krishna, V. (2013) Treatise on the Isoptera of the world. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 377, 2704 pp.

    Lameere, A. (1906) Notes pour la classification des Diptères. Mémoires de la Société Entomologie de Belgique, 12, ‏105–140.

    Latreille, P.A. (1802) Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des Crustacés et des Insectes. Ouvrage faisant suite aux œuvres de Leclerc de Buffon et partie du cours complet d’Histoire naturelle rédigé par C.S. Sonnini. T. 3, an X. Familles naturelles et genres. Dufart, Paris, 1–467.

    Linnaeus, C. von (1758) Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. L. Salvii, Holmiae [= Stockholm], 824 pp.

    Melander, A.L. (1906) Some new or little-known genera of Empididae. Entomological News, 17, 370–379.

    Metcalfe, I. (1990) Allochthonous terrane processes in Southeast Asia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, A, 331, 625640.

    Metcalfe, I. (1996) Pre-Cretaceous evolution of SE Asian terranes. In: Hall, R. & Blundell, D. (Eds), Tectonic evolution of Southeast Asia. Geological Society Special Publication, 106, 97–122.

    Nagatomi, A., Liu, N. & Yanagida, K. (1994) Notes on the Proratinae (Diptera: Scenopinidae). South Pacific Study, 14, 137–222.

    Pape, T., Blagoderov, V. & Mostovski, M.B. (2011) Order Diptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.), Animal biodiversity: an outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. Zootaxa, 3148 (1), 222–229.

    Scotese, C.R. (2014) Atlas of Early Cretaceous Paleogeographic Maps, PALEOMAP Atlas for ArcGIS, volume 2, The Cretaceous, Maps 23–31, Mollweide Projection, PALEOMAP Project, Evanston, Illinois.

    Seton, M., Müller, R.D., Zahirovic, S., Gaina, C., Torsvik, T., Shepard, G., Talsma, A., Gurnis, M., Turner, M., Maus, S. & Chandler, M. (2012) Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma. Earth-Science Review, 113, 212–270.

    Shi, G.H., Grimaldi, D.A., Harlow, G.E., Wang, J., Wang, J., Yang, M.C., Lei, W.Y., Li, Q.L. & Li, X.H. (2012) Age constraint on Burmese amber based on U-Pb dating of zircons. Cretaceous Research, 37, 155–163.

    Shin, S., Bayless, K.M., Winterton, S.L., Dikow, T., Lessard, B.D., Yeates, D.K., Wiegmann, B.M. & Trautwein, M.D. (2018) Taxon sampling to address an ancient rapid radiation: a supermatrix phylogeny of early brachyceran flies (Diptera). Systematic Entomology, 43, 277–289.

    Theodor, O. (1983) The genitalia of Bombyliidae (Diptera). The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, 275 pp.

    Trautwein, M.D., Wiegmann, B.M. & Yeates, D.K. (2010) A multigene phylogeny of the fly superfamily Asiloidea (Insecta): taxon sampling and additional genes reveal the sister-group to all higher flies (Cyclorrhapha). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56, 918–930.

    van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., Lippert, P.C., Dupont-Nivet, G., McQuarrie, N., Doubrovine, P.V., Spakman, W. & Torsvik, T.H. (2012) Greater India Basin hypothesis and a two-stage Cenozoic collision between India and Asia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, 7659–7664.

    Westerweel, J., Roperch, P., Licht, A., Dupont-Nivet, G., Win, Z., Poblete, F., Ruffet, G., Swe, H.H., Thi, M.K. & Aung, D.W. (2019) Burma Terrane part of the Trans-Tethyan arc during collision with India according to palaeomagnetic data. Nature Geoscience, 12, 863–868.

    Wiegmann, B.M., Trautwein, M.D., Winkler, I.S., Barr, N.B., Kim, J.-W., Lambkin, C., Bertone, M.A., Cassel, B.K., Bayless, K.M., Heimberg, A.M., Wheeler, B.M., Peterson, K.J., Pape, T., Sinclair, B.S., Skevington, J.H., Blagoderov, V., Caravas, J., Kutty, S.N., Schmidt-Ott, U., Kampmeier, G.E., Thompson, F.C., Grimaldi, D.A., Beckenbach, A.T., Courtney, G.W., Friedrich, M., Meier, R. & Yeates, D.K. (2011) Episodic radiations in the fly tree of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 5690–5695.

    Winterton, S.L. & Gharali, B. (2011) Iranotrichia gen. nov. : a new genus of Scenopinidae (Diptera) from Iran, with a key to window fly genera of the world. ZooKeys, 138, 75–92.

    Winterton, S.L. & Kerr, P. (2006) A new species of Alloxytropus Bezzi (Diptera: Scenopinidae: Proratinae) from Israel. Zootaxa, 1155 (1), 41–50.

    Winterton, S.L. & Metz, M.A. (2005) Cyrtosathe gen. n.: the first non-scenopinine window fly from subSaharan Africa (Diptera: Scenopinidae). Zootaxa, 975 (1), 1–12.

    Winterton, S.L. & Ware, J. (2015) Phylogeny, divergence times and biogeography of window flies (Scenopinidae) and the therevoid clade (Diptera: Asiloidea). Systematic Entomology, 40, 491–519.

    Yeates, D.M. (1992) Towards a monophyletic Bombyliidae (Diptera): the removal of the Proratinae (Diptera: Scenopinidae). American Museum Novitates, 3051, 1–30

    Yeates, D.K. & Wiegmann, B.M. (2005) Chapter 2. Phylogeny and evolution of Diptera: recent insights and new perspectives. In: Yeates, D.K. & Wiegmann, B.M. (Eds), The evolutionary biology of flies. Columbia University Press, New York, New York, 14–44.

    Yu, T., Kelly, R., Mu, L., Ross, A., Kennedy, J., Broly, P., Xia, F., Zhang, H., Wang, B. & Dilcher, D. (2019) An ammonite trapped in Burmese amber. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116, 11345–11350.