The oldest fossil record of the Hexapoda is a collembolan species, Rhyniella praecursorfrom the Devonian Rhynie Chert of Scotland. But this is a rare find from before the Late Carboniferous, when the fossil record of insects becomes better known.
Fossil Record of Extant Insects
The fossil record of insects documents 67% of modern families (Labandeira & Eble, 2000), which is a high proportion of modern high-level taxa. But this record shows only about 1% of modern insect genera, a great reduction.
Fossil insects are represented as a Lagerstätten-driven record. Most fossils are known only from a limited number of sites, but at those sites, the fossils are often diverse and exceptionally well preserved.
It is evident from the fossil record that the end-Permian mass extinction wiped out the Palaeozoic insect fauna and allowed the modern insect fauna to diversify. Later, in the Cretaceous, insects co-evolved with flowering angiosperms.
Extinct groups of the Class Insecta
Order Palaeodictyoptera (EXTINCT)
Order Megasecoptera (EXTINCT)
Order Diaphanopterodea (EXTINCT)
Order Protodonata (EXTINCT)
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