Andronymus neander

Jong, Rienk De, 2017, Fossil butterflies, calibration points and the molecular clock (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea), Zootaxa 4270 (1), pp. 1-63 : 32-33

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.583183

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Andronymus neander


neander . Andronymus neander Plötz, 1884

Hesperiidae : Hesperiinae : Andronymus ? neander .

Locality uncertain, copal; Pleistocene.

Depository: BMNH (one specimen, no. 58522).

Published figures: Illustrations of the extant species can be found in various books on African butterflies.

Andronymus is a hesperiid genus restricted to sub-Saharan Africa. Evans, who was not sure of the correct species name and put a question mark on the label, identified the fossil in the collection of The Natural History Museum (London). Apparently, this species name was copied by Skalski (1976) under the genus name Androgynus ), but without the question mark, and without any details or references. Claire Mellish of the Palaeontology Department of The Natural History Museum (London) kindly sent me images of the fossil, in which the unbranched radial veins in the forewing are clearly visible, identifying the fossil as belonging to the Hesperiidae . The stout antennal club with upturned apiculus and the wide head also point to this family. The wings are relatively narrow and have an estimated length of about 20 mm. The third palpal segment is long, thin, sharply pointed, and appears to curve a bit over the vertex, similar to what is found in the distantly related genera Acleros and Teniorhinus . In the forewing, three well-developed subapical spots are visible, with the one in space R5 relatively large and trapezoidal and placed further to the termen than the smaller, elliptical spots in R3 and R4, which are placed one above the other. There is a large elliptical spot in the upper, outer corner of the cell. Possible additional spots are not clearly visible in the fossil. Among extant genera this arrangement of characters is only found in Andronymus . Of the about ten extant species ( Larsen 2005), A. neander , A. gander and A. evander share the same arrangement of spots visible in the fossil. At the same time, this arrangement is not found in Acleros and Teniorhinus , and for this reason the identification of the fossil as a member of Andronymus appears correct.

According to Skalski (1976) and Sohn et al. (2012) the fossil originated from Tanzania (Zanzibar) , East Africa. Since A. neander is the only extant Andronymus species occurring in East Africa, the idea that the fossil may have been this species seems obvious. However, the fossil was purchased, together with other fossil material, from J.C. Rees in 1867, without indication of locality, but assumed to be Baltic amber by subsequent early authors (Claire Mellish, pers. comm.). However, all specimens were preserved in copal and possibly originated from East Africa , although there is no proof. It is not clear why subsequently it was assumed to have come from Zanzibar .

Like most skippers, the Andronymus species are fast flying. As in the case of Charaxes candiope (see above) that was found in East African copal, it is remarkable that this swift skipper was trapped in dripping resin.