Archived content - Cicada (9 of 46)

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B. Understanding Cicadas (Continued)

5B. Cicada Ancestors

The most primitive cicada ancestors are the extinct Cicadoprosbolidae. They are known mostly from their wings (Section 6A), which were more nearly similar in size than those of cicadas. The youngest Cicadoprosbolid fossils (Architettix) show no sign of sound-producing or auditory organs. They were jumping insects with elongate, robust legs like those of their modern relatives (Section 5C), leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). Their nymphs also had legs adapted for speed, and must have lived above ground. Their adults probably could neither sing nor hear air-borne sounds, but, like other "short-horned" bugs, only made (and sensed) weak vibrations of the plants they sat upon.

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A female Cicadoprosbolid cicada fossil (Architettix)

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A male Cicadoprosbolid cicada fossil (Architettix)

Intermediate between Cicadoprosbolidae and Cicadidae are the Tettigarctidae. Members of this family have the long, narrow front wings of cicadas, and hind legs not suited for jumping; but like their ancestors including the Cicadoprosbolidae, they have an enlarged first thoracic plate (pronotum) that covers most of the thorax (in Cicadidae this plate is reduced to a short “collar” exposing the robust second thoracic segment) and large hind wings. Nothing is known of their Mesozoic nymphs. Two species of "hairy cicadas" belonging to the Tettigarctidae have survived to the present in the mountains of southern Australia. These have subterranean nymphs, like cicadas, but their front legs are differently shaped for digging. Both sexes of these insects can “sing” using convex, ribbed structures on the upper side of the base of the abdomen (“tymbals”) but the vibrations are still substrate-borne since these insects lack sound receptors (variously called “mirrors” or “tympana”).

Family Cicadoprosbolidae
Cretaceous: Hylaeoneura
Lower Cretaceous: Architettix female and Architettix male
Jurassic: Cicadoprosbolidae, Diptheropsis, Kisylia, Shuraboprosbole, Turutanovia
Lower Jurassic: Paraprosbole
Triassic: Leptoprosbolidae, Mesodipthera, Shaandongia

Family Tettigarctidae
Eocene: Eotettigarcta, Meuniera
Cretaceous: Cicadoides, Elkinda, Protabanus, Sinocicadia
Jurassic: Liassocicada, Liassotettigarcta, Sinotettigarcta
Upper Triassic / Lower Jurassic: Quadrisbole
Upper Triassic: Lacunisbole
Triassic: Kerjieprosbole

Family Cicadidae
Miocene: Lithocicada, Tymocicada
Oligocene: Paracicadetta
Palaeocene: Davispia

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