Nymphalites zeuneri,

Jong, Rienk De, 2017, Fossil butterflies, calibration points and the molecular clock (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea), Zootaxa 4270 (1), pp. 1-63: 42

publication ID

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

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scientific name

Nymphalites zeuneri


zeuneri  . Nymphalites zeuneri Jarzembowski, 1980 

Nymphalidae  .

England, Isle of Wight, Bembridge Marls; late Priabonian, late Eocene. 

Depository: BMNH (holotype, no. I.10384; counterpart holotype).

Published figures: Jarzembowski (1980: Figs 72, 75, 76); Murata (1998: Fig. 6, as Protoeuthalia brittanica).

This specimen consists of remains of both pairs of wings. The forewing: cell closed; probable radial vein formula 1, 2, 3+(4+5), but of R3-R5 only the common stem and an indication of the first forking remains, since the rest of the apical region is lacking and it cannot be decided if all radial veins were present, or whether R4 or R5 had become obsolete. M1 from anterior apical corner of cell, M2 closer to M1 than to M3; udc absent, mdc concave to termen, ldc straight; Cu trifid (CuA2, CuA1, M3); 1A+2A faintly discernible, single, basal third invisible because of superimposed hindwing. Hindwing: margins missing except for basal part of anterior margin; cell open; humeral vein straight, unforked, from fork of Sc+R, directed toward humerus. Area between Sc and anterior margin apparently narrow; Sc straight except basally, but greater part missing. M2 closer to M1 than to M3. One anal vein visible, but anal area largely missing. Traces of crescent-shaped markings on the underside.

According to the original description the specimen is medium-sized; length of forewing cell 13.5 mm. This species of Nymphalidae  is close to the extant species of Neurosigma siva (Westwood)  , Abrota mirus (Fabricius)  of tropical Asia and Cymothoe theobene Doubleday & Hewitson  , now placed in Harma  , of Africa, in wing form and venation. However, since the wing margins are almost entirely missing, we can only speculate on the wing form and the short, broad wing tail between M2 and M3 of the hindwing in Fig. 75 of Jarzembowski (1980) is likely speculation of the artist who made the drawing, since the margin cannot be reconstructed from the fossil. The open hindwing cell is an apomorphy of part of the Nymphalidae  . Notably, it is the only character on which the assignment of the fossil to the family Nymphalidae  can be based. The radial branches in the forewing are incomplete, but what can be seen does not contradict an affinity to the Nymphalidae  , at the same time this feature does not prove that it is a member of the Nymphalidae  as the Nymphalidae  generally have a plesiomorphic condition for the branching of the radial veins.

The fossil was mentioned by Zeuner (1961) without description, except that it was "so closely related to the recent genus Euthalia  ( Nymphalidae  ) that it could easily be placed there." He added that "The description will shortly be published elsewhere." This did not happen until 19 years later by Jarzembowski (1980). It is not clear where the names Protoeuthalia brittanica, used by Murata (1998) for this fossil, originates from. Possibly it is a manuscript name; apparently, the name is an objective junior synonym.