Journal article

A new extant family of primitive moths from Kangaroo Island, Australia, and its significance for understanding early Lepidoptera evolution

Niels P Kristensen, Douglas J Hilton, Axel Kallies, Liz Milla, Jadranka Rota, Niklas Wahlberg, Stephen A Wilcox, Richard V Glatz, David A Young, Glenn Cocking, Ted Edwards, George W Gibbs, Mike Halsey



We report the first discovery since the 1970s of a new extant family (Aenigmatineidae fam.n.) of homoneurous moths, based on the small Aenigmatinea glatzella sp.n. from Kangaroo Island off southern Australia. It exhibits a combination of extraordinary anatomical characters, and, unlike most homoneurous moths, its larva is a conifer‐feeder (stem mining in Callitris, Cupressaceae). While the adult's mouthparts are strongly regressed, evidence from other morphological characters and from a Bayesian analysis of 25 genetic loci convincingly places the taxon among Glossata (‘tongue moths’). An unexpected tongue moth clade including Acanthopteroctetidae and Neopseustidae, suggested with low support..

View full abstract


Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Bushland Conservation Pty Ltd for permission to access their property, which contains most of the current known range of this species; J. Naumann and D. Cheung for technical help with sectioning and illustrations. M. Horak facilitated the 2012 fieldwork. We thank Don Davis, Erik van Nieukerken, and Thomas Simonsen for comments on the manuscript. N.P.K. had economic support from B. Benzons Stottefond. DNA sequencing was supported by an honorarium from the Hermon Slade Foundation to D.J.H.; J.R. and N.W. thank Kone Foundation for funding. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.