It always seems to be the case that there are gaps in the fossil record just where things get interesting — probably with good reason, that forms in transition will be relatively rare. One such gap is the period where insects first emerge and begin to conquer the terrestrial world, a period called the arthropod gap, between 385 and 325 million years ago. Here’s a new specimen from that relatively barren stretch of time, Strudiella devonica.
It’s a classic insect: a body divided into three regions (head, thorax, abdomen), six legs, a fairly general set of omnivorous mouthparts. It lacks wings, but the small size suggests it may be in a nymphal stage (also, the genitals at the tip of the abdomen didn’t make it), so that may not mean much.
Garrouste R, Clément G, Nel P, Engel MS, Grandcolas P, D’Haese C, Lagebro L, Denayer J, Gueriau P, Lafaite P, Olive S, Prestianni C, Nel A (2012) A complete insect from the Late Devonian period. Nature 488, 82–85.
(Whew, that’s a lot of authors for a short paper.)