Fossils: Robber Fly
Diptera, Family Asilidae, Genus Araripogon (?)
Time: Lower Cretaceous Late Aptian-Cenomanian (108-92 million years
fossil 12 mm
Site: Crato Formation, Nova Olinda Member, Ceara, Brazil
The Araripe Basin of Brazil is home to a fantastic array of exquisitely-detailed
Early Cretaceous fossils, some of which have been preserved in three
dimensions. While the entire formation has until the last decade
or so been termed the Santana Formation, David Martill has separated
out the slightly older insect-bearing strata as the Nova Olinda
Member of the Crato Formation. Quarrying operations for the purposes
of obtaining paving stones exposes the remarkable insect fauna in
much the same way that quarrying for lithographic limestone in Solnhofen
has afforded a panoply of wonderfully-preserved Jurassic fossils
in Germany. In addition to the many orders of insects, spiders,
scorpions, decapod crustaceans, and many plants have been found.
Interestingly, to date no pterosaurs or terrestrial vertebrates
have been found, in stark contrast to the overlying Santana Formation
deposits. This fine example shows a robber fly in lateral aspect..
The robber flies are predaceous, often attacking insects larger
than themselves; they are capable of inflicting a painful bite.
They are rare in the Cretaceous with only those found in Brazil
and one from amber of New Jersey known. It is most likely that this
is a member of the genus Araripogon as it is the only known genus