New representatives of a stem group Paoliida attributed to family Paoliidae (Insecta: Protoptera) are described from the Upper Carboniferous (Langsettian) sphero-sideritic concretions of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB) in Poland. Zdenekia silesiensis sp. nov. is based on forewing venation and supplemented by material of isolated hindwing similar in venation pattern. Darekia sanguinea gen. et sp. nov. differs from all other paoliid genera by the presence of a short contact between veins MP and CuA behind the division CuA and CuP. Composition of insect fauna exhibits high abundance of paoliid insects in the early Late Carboniferous ecosystems known also from other European localities such as Hagen Vorhalle in Ruhr Basin (Germany), and South Limbourg (Belgium and the Netherlands). It is the first record of true paoliids from the Polish part of paralic USCB supplementing a single historical record of Stygne roemeri considered as a taxon closely related to Paoliidae. The high abundance of paoliid insects from sphero-sideritic concretions in Sosnowiec and coal deposits previously known from the Czech part of Upper Silesian Coal Basin indicates considerable similarity of both faunas supported as well by their close stratigraphical correlation. Morphology of basal wing parts with remnants of articular sclerites preserved supports neopteran relationships of paoliids. Discovery of the first paoliid immature wing is reported suggesting similar living habitat for larvae and adults.
The oldest known pterygotes (winged insects) based on unambiguous fossils are known from the Early—Late Carboniferous (Namurian) boundary interval (Brauckmann et al. 1996; Prokop et al. 2005). One of their first fossils remnants (large wing described as Stygne roemeri Handlirsch, 1906; Handlirsch 1906–1908; Schwartzbach 1939) were reported from Namurian B of Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB), Alfred coal mine (Chorzów, Poland) (Roemer 1883). According to Kukalová (1958a), this species probably belonged to Paoliidae. Unfortunately, this cannot be confirmed as the material housed at the Wrocław University was lost during the Second World War. Krawczyński et al. (1997, 2001) provided preliminary reports on entomofauna from Sosnowiec and reported e.g., Idoptilus onisciformis Wootton, 1972, Rochdalia parkeri (Woodward, 1911), both taxa currently considered as immature stages of Palaeodictyoptera (Rolfe 1967; Wootton 1972), and Zdenekia sp. Kukalová, 1958 which belongs to the Paoliidae.
The majority of Carboniferous insects from USCB were found in Karviná Formation (lower and upper part of Suchá Beds Member, see Fig. 1B) of Westphalian A (Langsettian) age, described by Kukalová (1958a, b, 1959, 1960), Prokop and Nel (2007), and Pruvost (1933). The following insect groups are represented: Palaeodictyoptera, Paoliida, and “Protorthoptera”. In addition Prokop et al. (2005) discovered a single specimen from the drilling core in the basal part of the Ostrava Formation (Petřkovice Beds Member) of the early Namurian A age attributed to Archaeorthoptera that should be considered as the oldest reliable evidence of winged insects (Pterygota).
Newly excavated insect fauna consisting of more than 230 specimens was discovered from a dump of “Porąbka-Klimontów” coal mine in Sosnowiec (Silesia, Poland). A preliminary survey indicates that paoliids are the dominant group of insects recovered from this locality. The corresponding material is mostly composed of small fragments difficult to assign at the generic level. The second rather well represented group contains various immature stages of insects mostly attributable to Palaeodictyoptera followed by sparsely recorded other groups like Archaeognatha, Palaeodictyoptera, Grylloblattida and remaining “Protorthoptera”. Other groups of arthropods like syncarid crustaceans, malacostracans, xiphosurans, arachnids, scorpions, and myriapods as well as bivalves, gastropods and vertebrates are also recorded (Filipiak and Krawczyński 1996; Krawczyński et al. 1997; Stworzewicz et al. 2009). This composition is similar to that of faunas from the Czech part of USCB, and Hagen Vorhalle (Ruhr Basin; Germany; Brauckmann et al. 2003).
The present contribution is the first part of a series on systematic description of new entomofauna from Langsettian locality in Sosnowiec (USCB) pointing out its taxonomical sig