Dr. hab. Jacek Szwedo1

1 University of Gdańsk Professor Laboratory of Evolutionary Entomology and Museum of Amber Inclusions

 

Palaeoentomology started in the late 18th century, shortly after the 10th edition of Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae (the foundation of modern taxonomy), when papers on the curiosities of insects entombed in fossil resins were published. Since its beginning, palaeoentomology covered not only descriptive aspects of terrestrial arthropods (including Insecta, Chelicerata and relatives) but also reconstructions of ancient environments, ecology, evolution and phylogenies.

Over half of all described species, at least one million species worldwide, are insects. This make them one of the major ecological and evolutionary radiations on Earth. Insects evolved into a hyperdiverse lineage that currently occupies almost every ecological niche, thanks to great diversity of life forms and developmental strategies. Insects possess a surprisingly extensive fossil record, documented back more than ~410 million years ago. Nowadays, we know better their fossil record and phylogenetic relationships, our understanding of the reasons for this diversity is growing, but still is insufficient.

Despite retreat and impediment in taxonomic research, palaeoentomological papers are now flooding the journals, due to thousands of new fossils recorded in the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber and in other fossil insects sites. However, more attention is nowadays, and should be given in future to present the fossils in wider context, with interpretation of their palaeoecological and evolutionary role and importance.

The main goal of this thematic session is to point out the needs in both descriptive (taxonomic) and interpretational (palaeoecological, evolutionary, etc.) aspects of palaeoentomological research. We wish to discuss these issues, search for the new ways of data accumulation and elaboration, finding the solutions for better understanding of ecological and (co)-evolutionary processes. We would like also discuss the ways to share and distribute the palaeoentomological data and information.