Maculaferrum blaisi: New Species of Ancient Hairy Cicada Identified

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The fossilized forewing of Maculaferrum blaisi; total forewing length estimated at 20-23 mm, maximal forewing width at 7.5 mm. Image credit: Demers-Potvin et al, doi: 10.4202/app.00669.2019.

A new genus and species of hairy cicada that lived around 100 million years ago (Cretaceous period) has been identified from a fossilized wing found in Canada.

The newly-discovered species belongs to Tettigarctidae, a family of hairy cicadas that includes only two extant species: Tettigarcta crinita and Tettigarcta tomentosa.

The single fossilized forewing of the prehistoric incest was collected from the Redmond no. 1 mine near Schefferville — the so-called Redmond Formation — in Labrador, Canada.

Dubbed Maculaferrum blaisi, the species is the first hemipteran insect (true bug) to be discovered at the Redmond Formation.

“A single wing was sufficient to identify the family to which the insect belonged,” said Alexandre Demers-Potvin, a Master’s student at McGill University.

“We were easily able to demonstrate that the insect belonged to the Tettigarctidae family thanks to the pattern of the veins we observed on its wing.”

“This gives us a better understanding of the site’s insect biodiversity during the Cretaceous period, a time before the dinosaurs were wiped out,” he said.

“The finding also illustrates that rare species can be found at the Redmond mine and that it deserves the attention from the paleontological community.”

The discovery of Maculaferrum blaisi confirms the presence of the once-widespread family Tettigarctidae in North America and contributes to filling a Late Cretaceous gap in the fossil record of hairy cicadas.

“The find is exciting because it represents the oldest, diverse insect locality in Canada,” said Professor Hans Larsson, Director of the Redpath Museum at McGill University.

“It’s also from an exciting time during an evolutionary explosion of flowering plants and pollinating insects, that evolved into the terrestrial ecosystems of today.”

The team’s paper was published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.


Alexandre V. Demers-Potvin et al. First North American occurrence of hairy cicadas discovered in the Cenomanian (Late Cretaceous) of Labrador, Canada. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, published online February 20, 2020; doi: 10.4202/app.00669.2019