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First record of Phormia regina (Meigen, 1826) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) from mummies at the Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral of Castelsardo, Sardinia, Italy

Giordani, Giorgia, Tuccia, Fabiola, Floris, Ignazio and Vanin, Stefano (2018) First record of Phormia regina (Meigen, 1826) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) from mummies at the Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral of Castelsardo, Sardinia, Italy. PeerJ, 6. ISSN 2167-8359

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The studies of insects from archaeological contexts can provide an important
supplement of information to reconstruct past events, climate and environments.
Furthermore, the list of the species present in an area in the past allows the reconstruction
of the entomofauna on that area at that time, that can be different from
the nowadays condition, providing information about biodiversity changes. In this
work, the results of a funerary archaeoentomological study on samples collected from
mummified corpses discovered during the restoration of the crypt of the Sant’Antonio
Abate Cathedral of Castelsardo (Sardinia, Italy) are reported. The majority of the
sampled specimens were Diptera puparia, whereas only few Lepidoptera cocoons
and some Coleoptera fragments were isolated. Among Diptera, Calliphoridae puparia
were identified as Phormia regina (Meigen, 1826) and Calliphora vicina, (RobineauDesvoidy,
1830) both species typical of the first colonization waves of exposed bodies.
Three puparia fragments were also identified as belonging to a Sarcophaga Meigen, 1826,
species (Sarcophagidae). Several Muscidae puparia of the species Hydrotaea capensis
(Weidmermann, 1818), a late colonizer of bodies, and typical of buried bodies were
also collected. The few moth (Lepidoptera) cocoons were identified as belonging to the
family Tineidae. This family comprises species feeding on dry tissues and hair typical of
the later phases of the human decomposition. Among Coleoptera a single specimen in
the family Histeridae, Saprinus semistriatus(Scriba, 1790) and a single elytra, potentially
of a species in the family Tenebrionidae, were also collected. Overall, the samples
collected indicated an initial colonization of the bodies in an exposed context, mainly
in a warm season. This research allows the finding of elements indicating the presence,
at least in the past, of P. regina in Sardinia. This species at the moment seems extinct
from Sardinia while it is quite common in the continent.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Archeological context, Insect colonization, Mummified bodies, Ancient burial, Mediterranean
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Schools: School of Applied Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Sally Hughes
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 14:43
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 15:18


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