Abstract

Two types of evidence for insect ovipositional activity (i.e., actual egg chorions and ovipositional damage) occur on Nilssoniopteris (bennettitalean foliage) leaf cuticles from the Carnian of Austria and provide a rare direct insight into insect egg morphology and oviposition in the Late Triassic. The egg chorions have exclusively been found on N. haidingeri leaves, where they are attached to the outer surface of the abaxial cuticle; one specimen suggests that the eggs were arranged in circles. It is impossible at present to determine the affinities of the eggs; possible producers may be beetles, dragonflies, sawflies, or other allied basal Hymenoptera. Ovipositional damage occurs on N. angustior leaves in the form of lenticular egg impressions surrounded by a narrow, elevated margin. The impressions are visible on the ad- and abaxial cuticle, and coincide when both cuticles are superimposed, which indicates that the eggs producing these impressions were injected into the interior of the leaf. Producers of eggs that may have caused these damages are perhaps dragonflies or damselflies. The restricted occurrence of the two types of ovipositional activity suggests that some kind of host specificity existed, perhaps related to specific preferences in larval diet.

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