Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Southern Emeralds, Tigertails

Compiler and date details

W.W.K. Houston, Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, ACT, Australia J.A.L. Watson, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, ACT, Australia Updated (1999) by A.A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, ACT, Australia


The Synthemistidae was formerly regarded as a distinct family (Fraser 1960) until recently, when Theischinger & Watson (1984) and Watson et al. (1991) regarded it as a subfamily of Corduliidae. However, Carle & Louton (1994) recently elevated it to familial status. The Australian fauna includes eight genera, 25 species and six subspecies. Three of the genera Archaeosynthemis, Austrosynthemis and Parasynthemis were split from Synthemis by Carle (1995) based almost exclusively on adult characters, while a third genus Tonyosynthemis was erected by Theischinger (1998) based on both adult and larval characters. Hawking (1997) lists the conservation status of Synthemiopsis gomphomacromioides Tillyard as rare being largely restricted to the swampy buttongrass plains at all altitudes mainly in the Southwest National Park or Cradle Mountain National Park.

Hawking & Theischinger (1999) give a key to the synthemistid larvae found in New South Wales.

The Australian synthemistids show strong Gondwanan affinities (Theischinger & Watson, 1984).



Adult: eyes contiguous; anterodorsal surface of occiput triangular; pterostigmata not concave posteriorly, shorter than distance between costal braces; pterostigmal brace obsolete; median space with crossveins; wings with 3 or 10 cubital-anal crossveins; hindwings with weak, non-aligned antenodal crossveins alternating with 3-5 aligned, reinforced, antenodal crossveins; abdomen cylindrical, segments 3-6 typically more than five times as long as wide; male segment 7 without well developed mid-dorsal ridge or lateral carinae; male epiproct typically quadrate or triangular; cerci not strongly expanded distally; female sternum 10 without splash plate; ovipositor reduced (Carle 1995).

Larva: frontal plate developed; prementum ladle-shaped with two distinct groups of setae; labial palps with palpal setae and well developed distal teeth, lacking setae; pronotum laterally ridge-like; wing pads divergent; metasternum with transverse sutures meeting at point or fused at short seam; abdomen spinuliform, lacking mid-dorsal and lateral spines; apex more or less sharply pointed (Hawking & Theischinger 1999).


General References

Carle, F.L. 1995. Evolution, taxonomy, and biogeography of ancient Gondwanian libelluloides, with comments on anisopteroid evolution and phylogenetic systematics (Anisoptera: Libelluloidea). Odonatologica 24: 383-424

Carle, F.L. & Louton, J.A. 1994. The larva of Neopetalia punctata and establishment of Austropetaliidae fam. nov. (Odonata). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 96(1): 147-155

Fraser, F.C. 1960. A Handbook of the Dragonflies of Australasia, with keys for the identification of all species. Sydney : Royal Zoological Society of N.S.W. 67 pp., 27 pls.

Hawking, J. & Theischinger, G. 1999. Dragonfly larvae (Odonata). A guide to the identification of larvae of Australian families and to the identification and ecology of larvae from New South Wales. Albury : Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology Vol. 24 iv 218 pp.

Hawking, J.H. 1997. The conservation status of dragonflies (Odonata) from south-eastern Australia. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 56(2): 537-542

Theischinger, G. 1998. Tonyosynthemis, a new dragonfly genus from Australia (Insecta: Odonata: Synthemistidae). Linzer Biologische Beitr├Ąge 30(1): 139-142 [Date published 31/Jul/1997]

Theischinger, G. & Watson, J.A.L. 1984. Larvae of Australian Gomphomacromiinae, and their bearing on the status of the Synthemis group of genera (Odonata: Corduliidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 32: 67-95

Watson, J.A.L., Theischinger, G. & Abbey, H.M. 1991. The Australian Dragonflies. A guide to the identification, distributions and habitats of Australian Odonata. Canberra and Melbourne : CSIRO vii 278 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
10-May-2022 ODONATA 21-Mar-2022 MODIFIED
19-Jul-2012 19-Jul-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)