Amber holds special paleobiological significance due to its ability to preserve direct evidence of biotic interactions and animal behaviors for millions of years. Here we review the finding of Hallucinochrysa diogenesi Pérez-de la Fuente, Delclòs, Peñalver and Engel, 2012, a morphologically atypical larva related to modern green lacewings (Insecta: Neuroptera) that was described in Early Cretaceous amber from the El Soplao outcrop (northern Spain). The fossil larva is preserved with a dense cloud of fern trichomes that corresponds to the trash packet the insect gathered and carried on its back for camouflaging and shielding, similar to that which is done by its extant relatives. This finding supports the prominent role of wildfires in the paleoecosystem and provides direct evidence of both an ancient planteinsect interaction and an early acquisition of a defensive behavior in an insect lineage. Overall, the fossil of H. diogenesi showcases the potential that the amber record offers to reconstruct not only the morphology of fossil arthropods but, more remarkably, their lifestyles and ecological relationships.
The genus Diplosmittia was erected by Sæther (1981) based on Diplosmittia harrisoni from St. Lucia and St. Vincent in the British West Indies. Prior to the present study the genus comprised nine species, all except D. carinata Sæther were known only from Neotropical Region (Ashe & O'Connor, 2012). During sampling in the surroundings of a highly organic polluted river, in the National Botanical Garden in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the present second author collected several imagines of Diplosmittia that did not fit any taxon treated in the recent review of the genus (Pinho et al. 2009). In the present paper, the male of this new species is described and illustrated. Alcohol-preserved specimens were dissected and slide mounted in Euparal. Morphological terminology and abbreviations follow Sæther (1980) and Epler (1988). Measurement are taken according to Epler (1988). The holotype is deposited in the entomological collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), Harvard University, USA and paratypes are deposited in the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (MNHN), Dominican Republic and Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM), Germany.