A gold and purple moth with feathered wing tips represents an entirely new family of primitive moths, notes a new paper in the journal Systematic Entomology.
In the paper, researchers from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) describe Aenigmatinea glatzella (dubbed "enigma" for short), a moth just 10 millimeters long but huge in impact -- a "living dinosaur," the scientists call it in a release.
Recently found on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, and so far observed only there, the new moth lives on an ancient segment of Australian fauna: the Southern Cypress-pine tree.
Time is short for the lustrous moth. In a single day, the adult emerges from its cocoon, mates, and then dies.
CSIRO researcher Ted Edwards said DNA analysis and appearance characteristics of the moth show that the evolution of moths and butterflies is even more complex than originally thought.
Edwards said that in addition to the new find reinforcing evolutionary relationships between other primitive moth families, "it also suggests that tongues evolved in moths and butterflies more than once."