Old, But Not That Old: Debunking the Myth of Ancient Cockroaches

Entomology Today

Gyna lurida This cockroach (Gyna lurida) is not a fossil, but it shares a family with one of the oldest known cockroach fossil specimens, “Gyna” obesa, which is the earliest known member of the family Blaberidae, alive 50 million years ago and found in France, where no Blaberidae exist today. (Photo credit: Dominic Anthony Evangelista, Ph.D.)

By Dominic Anthony Evangelista, Ph.D. and Manpreet Kohli

Cockroaches are not 300 million years old. They might not even be 200 million years old. In fact, the oldest cockroaches known from the fossil record are only 125-140 million years old, hardly the ancient and immortal beasts claimed by some.

In our new paper published in Palaeontologica Electronica, a review of the oldest cockroach fossils known to science, we debunk the misconception that cockroaches have been around since the Carboniferous Period. Currently, the oldest known cockroach fossils, Valditermes brennae and Cretaholocompsa montsecana, are…

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