Now that we’ve seen the “true flies” we can take a look at the many other groups of insects with “fly” attached to their names. Most of these groups are much older, and in my humble opinion would do quite well for a little inspiration for alien lifeforms!
There are a few of these that I do not mention a specific time period, because I could not find any conclusive information on when exactly they appeared. All I know is that insects in all of these groups have been around at least since the Jurassic, and many are from the Carboniferous or Permian. I sometimes forget the precise order of the many geological time periods, it’s simply mind boggling how huge a span of time we’re talking about here! So here’s a brief reminder, for myself as well!
Carboniferous: About 359-299 million years ago…giant bugs, huge explosion of tree growth, reign of amphibians.
Permian: About 299-252 million years ago…rise of reptiles, earliest relatives of mammals, which includes Dimetrodon-not-a-dinosaur!
Triassic: About 252-201 million years ago…dawn of the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mammals, and marine reptiles like Plesiosaurs.
Jurassic: About 201-145 million years ago…”golden age” of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine reptiles.
Any sort of list for prehistoric insects was mostly unhelpful. Research for this page mostly involved painstaking unwinding of threads from modern groups, then tracing back on which ones are the oldest and most “primitive” groups. Sometimes Wikipedia had a handy little chart on the upper right-hand corner to say when in time a group of insects appeared, but mostly I went down names of groups one by one to see if there were any fossils from that group, or modern species that look nearly identical to their fossil ancestors.
Once I crawled into the rabbit hole I just had to keep going, even when I realized I’d bitten into quite a bit more than I could chew. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
I am eternally grateful that Wikipedia is such a great resource. From the sheer numbers of insects I discovered I’m afraid I did not have the time to cross reference with other resources, but feel free to look into the many resources Wikipedia lists at the bottom of each article if you want to find out more!