Sphinx atava,

Jong, Rienk De, 2017, Fossil butterflies, calibration points and the molecular clock (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea), Zootaxa 4270 (1), pp. 1-63: 18

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http://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.583183

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Sphinx atava


atava  . Sphinx atava Charpentier, 1843 

Nymphalidae  : Nymphalinae  (?).

Croatia, Radoboj; Burdigalian, early Miocene.

Depository: specimen probably lost.

Published figures: Scudder (1875: Pl. I Figs 1View FIGURE 1, 3View FIGURES 3 – 4, 7).

Only part of forewing. Judging from the detailed description by Heer (see Scudder 1875: 42) the radial formula is 1, 2, 3+(4+5) (R2 not clearly seen), with M1 originating from the cell. The cell is open (as far as can be judged). What is left of the apical part of the outer margin seems to be dentate, but the fossil is too much damaged to be certain.

Described by Charpentier (1843) as belonging to Sphingidae (Sphingoidea)  , but Heer (see Scudder 1875) stated that the costa was too strongly curved for a hawkmoth, and he placed it, under the name “ attavina ”, in the nymphalid genus Vanessa  . He was followed by Kirby (1871) who misspelled the name “ atovina ”, but later (1877: 733) he listed it under the correct name in Nymphalis  . Kozlov (1988) listed the fossil as belonging to the fossil genus Nymphalites  . Scudder (1875) assigned the fossil to the genus Eugonia  , which is closely related to Vanessa  and Nymphalis  (the present use of these genus names is slightly different, but not important here). The radial arrangement is a plesiomorphic condition. The open cell is an apomorphy of the Nymphalinae  , but recurs in some other nymphalids. The dentate apex is suggestive of the apex in the Nymphalini  (probably an apomorphy of the tribe), but the fossil is not very clear in this character. What is left of the markings (darker and lighter patches) is very similar to what is found in many Nymphalini  , such as Aglais urticae (Linnaeus)  , Nymphalis vau-album (Schiffermüller)  , Polygonia c-album (Linnaeus)  , etc. This design is possibly apomorphic for the Nymphalini  , as is the dentate apex. The fossil does not appear to show any apomorphic character of an extant genus. It could be used as calibration point at the root of Nymphalini  , but since its age is relatively young, a calibration age will not be helpful.