Insect in Amber: Polymera Crane Fly

Subject: Is this a cranefly?
Location: Amber from Chiapas, Mexico
January 24, 2013 12:45 am
Hi there. At first, I thought that this was a cranefly, but the long antenna have left me doubting. I realize that the images are not that great, but do you have any ideas. The body is about 5-6 mm long. Thank you for you help and for the great site.
Signature: Daniel

Crane Fly in Amber

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for posing such an intriguing question.  This does appear very much like a Crane Fly, and it appears to have a single pair of wings, but you are correct about the antennae being longer than modern Crane Flies.  According to the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website:  “The antennae are composed of a cylindrical scape, a subspherical pedicel and 3 (Chionea) to 37 (Gynoplistia) flagellum segments (flagellomeres), commonly 11 in Tipulinae and 12-14 in Limoniinae in the Nearctic Region.”
  Perhaps the characteristics found in your fossil insect have been lost through the evolutionary process.  We do not feel skilled enough to come to a conclusion, so we have written to Crane Fly expert Chen Young as well as Eric Eaton to get their opinions.

Crane Fly in Amber is Polymera species

Chen Young confirms Crane Fly, genus Polymera
Dear Daniel,
How about that! A fossil crane fly in the genus Polymera!!!  I am attaching an image of a modern day Polymera to show you the similarity of these two specimens, notices the long antennae in the extant species.
What is the fate of this piece of fossil?  I would like to send the image of this fossil with locality (if you have) to a colleague of mine, Dr. Sigitas Podenas from Lithuania, who works on fossil crane flies.

Modern Crane Fly genus Polymera

Thanks so much for the speedy response Chen.  We will write back to Daniel who submitted this image and we will copy you with your requests.  Hopefully he will be gracious enough to respond.

Wow! You guys are fast. Thank you so much for the identification. It’s nice of you to clear up this mystery for me.
The piece was found near Simojovel, Chiapas, Mexico, and I currently have it in my possession (in Mexico). I would be happy to try to take some better images of it for Dr. Podenas if he finds it of interest. I say “try” because my equipment is limited to a hand-held camera and a jeweler’s loupe.
Again, thank you for your help and kind reponse.
Best wishes,
Daniel O’Quinn

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