Günter Bechly

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Günter Bechly (born 16 October 1963) is a German paleontologist and entomologist, specialising on fossil insects (especially odonates).


Bechly was born in Sindelfingen to Ursula Elfriede Bechly, and Günter Erwin Hermann Bechly. He is married to Maria Luise Bechly (*1979, née Winkelhofer) and has two sons.

Bechly studied biology at the University of Hohenheim and zoology, parasitology and paleontology at the University of Tübingen. In 1999 he finished his PhD thesis on the fossil history and phylogeny of dragonflies and damselflies. After working for nearly a year as scientific volunteer in 1999, Bechly began became curator for amber and fossil insects at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart. He left the museum in December 2016. He has made research visits to the Museum of Comparative Zoology and other natural history museums.[1]


Bechly's research as palaeoentomologist is mainly focussed on the evolution, phylogeny, and fossil history of odonates and other basal pterygotes, and fossil insects from the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Plattenkalk of Germany and the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation of Brazil, as well as diverse amber inclusions. Bechly described about 167 new species and numerous higher taxa, including a phylogenetic re-classification of dragonflies and damselflies. The description of the new fossil insect order Coxoplectoptera in 2011 provided new clues to the evolution of insect wings and received broad international media coverage.[2]

In 2009 Bechly organized as project leader the special exhibition "Der Fluss des Lebens - 150 Jahre Evolutionstheorie" at Rosenstein Castle, which attracted over 90.000 visitors and was one of the largest events of the "Darwin Year" celebrations in Germany. The concept for this exhibition was among the winners of the idea competition "Evolution heute" by the German VolkswagenStiftung in 2008.[3]

Bechly has made several appearances on German TV.[4]

In 2015 Bechly criticised Neo-Darwinism and expressed his support for Intelligent Design theory on a new private webpage[5] and blog.[6] Bechly is a convert to Roman Catholic theism.[7] He says:

I am a Roman Catholic Christian, supernaturalist, and immaterialist. I strongly oppose atheism, materialism, naturalism, and scientism. I have not become a Christian in spite of being a scientist but because of it. My conversion was based on a critical evaluation of empirical data and philosophical arguments, following the evidence wherever it leads. I reject the Neodarwinian theory of evolution and support Intelligent Design theory for purely scientific reasons.[8]

He emphasizes on his website that he strictly separates his private activities for Intelligent Design and theistic apologetics from his former professional work as museum scientist and in his paleontological publications.[9]

Since 2016 Bechly is Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute in Seattle, and since 2017 senior scientist at the Biologic Institute in Redmond. He featured in the Intelligent-Design documentary "Revolutionary" (2016).[10]


The following new taxa and species have been named after him:[11]

  • Bechlyidae Jarzembowski & Nel, 2002 (a monotypic family of Protozygoptera from the Upper Carboniferous)
  • Bechlya ericrobinsoni Jarzembowski & Nel, 2002 (the oldest damselfly from the Upper Carboniferous of England)
  • Gorgopsidis bechlyi Wunderlich, 2004 (a salticid spider from Eocene Baltic amber).
  • Colossocossus bechlyi Menon & Heads, 2005 (a giant cicada from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation).
  • Protobaetisca bechlyi Staniczek, 2007 (a mayfly from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation).
  • Carventus bechlyi Heiss & Poinar, 2012 (an aradid bug from Oligocene/Miocene Dominican amber)
  • Cretevania bechlyi Jennings, J.T., Krogmann, L. & Mew, S.L., 2013 (a wasp from Cretaceous Burmese amber)
  • Matuna bechlyi Stebner & Kraemer, 2014 (a psychodid dipteran from Mexican amber).
  • Pseudostenolestes bechlyi Garrouste & Nel, 2015 (the first Cenozoic record for the odonate suborder Isophlebioptera from Messel)


  • Bechly, G. (1996): Morphologische Untersuchungen am Flügelgeäder der rezenten Libellen und deren Stammgruppenvertreter (Insecta; Pterygota; Odonata) unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Phylogenetischen Systematik und des Grundplanes der *Odonata. - Petalura, spec. vol. 2: 402 pp.
  • Bechly, G. (2004): Evolution and systematics. - pp. 7–16 in: Hutchins, M., Evans, A.V., Garrison, R.W. & Schlager, N. (eds): Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Insects. 472 pp. - Gale Group, Farmington Hills, MI.
  • Bechly, G. (2010): Additions to the fossil dragonfly fauna of the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation of Brazil (Insecta: Odonata). - Palaeodiversity, 3 (Supplement "Contributions to the Willi-Hennig-Symposium on Phylogenetics and Evolution, University of Hohenheim, 29 September – 2 October 2009"): 11-77.
  • Bechly, G., Brauckmann, C., Zessin, W. & Gröning, E. (2001): New results concerning the morphology of the most ancient dragonflies (Insecta: Odonatoptera) from the Namurian of Hagen-Vorhalle (Germany). - J. zool. Syst. evol. Res., 39(2001): 209-226.
  • Bechly, G., Haas, F., Schawaller, W., Schmalfuss, H. & Schmid, U. (2001): Ur-Geziefer - Die faszinierende Evolution der Insekten. - Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturk. Ser. C, 49: 96 pp.
  • Bechly, G., Nel, A., Martínez-Delclòs, X., Jarzembowski, E.A., Coram, R., Martill, D., Fleck, G., Escuillié, F., Wisshak, M.M. & Maisch, M. (2001): A revision and phylogenetic study of Mesozoic Aeshnoptera, with description of several new families, genera and species (Insecta: Odonata: Anisoptera). - Neue paläontologische Abhandlungen, 4: 219 pp.
  • Bechly, G. & Wichard, W. (2008): Damselfly and dragonfly nymphs in Eocene Baltic amber (Insecta: Odonata), with aspects of their palaeobiology. - Palaeodiversity, 1: 37-74.
  • Fleck, G., Bechly, G., Martínez-Delclòs, X., Jarzembowski, E.A., Coram, R. & Nel, A. (2003): Phylogeny and classification of the Stenophlebioptera (Odonata: Epiproctophora). - Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, n.s. 39(1): 55-93.
  • Fleck, G., Bechly, G., Martínez-Delclòs, X., Jarzembowski, E. & Nel, A. (2004): A revision of the Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous dragonfly family Tarsophlebiidae, with a discussion on the phylogenetic positions of the Tarsophlebiidae and Sieblosiidae (Insecta, Odonatoptera, Panodonata). - Geodiversitas, 26(1): 33-60.
  • Huguet, A., Nel, A., Martínez-Delclòs, X., Bechly, G. & Martins-Neto, R. (2002): Preliminary phylogenetic analysis of the Protanisoptera (Insecta: Odonatoptera) [Essai d'analyse phylogénétique des Protanisoptera (Insecta: Odonatoptera)]. - Geobios, 35: 537-560.
  • Jarzembowski, E.A., Martínez-Delclòs, X., Bechly, G., Nel, A., Coram, R. & Escuillé, F. (1998): The Mesozoic non-calopterygoid Zygoptera: descriptions of new genera and species from the Lower Cretaceous of England and Brazil and their phylogenetic significance (Odonata, Zygoptera, Coenagrionoidea, Hemiphlebioidea, Lestoidea). - Cretaceous Research, 19: 403-444.
  • Martill, D.M., Bechly, G. & Loveridge, R.F. (eds) (2007): The Crato Fossil Beds of Brazil: Window into an Ancient World. xvi + 625 pp. - Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
  • Nel, A., Bechly, G., Jarzembowski, E. & Martínez-Delclòs, X. (1998): A revision of the fossil petalurid dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata: Anisoptera: Petalurida). - Paleontologia Lombarda, N.s., 10: 68 pp.
  • Nel, A., Bechly, G., Prokop, J., Béthoux, O. & Fleck, G. (2012): Systematics and evolution of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic damselfly-like Odonatoptera of the "protozygopteran" grade. - Journal of Paleontology, 86(1): 81-104.
  • Olmi, M. & Bechly, G. (2001): New parasitic wasps from Baltic amber (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Dryinidae). - Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturk. Ser. B, 306: 1-58.
  • Schmid, U. & Bechly, G. (2009) (eds): Evolution - Der Fluss des Lebens. - Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturk. Ser. C, 66/67: 197 S. (second revised edition published 2010)
  • Staniczek, A., Bechly, G. & Godunko, R.J. (2011): Coxoplectoptera, a new fossil order of Palaeoptera (Arthropoda: Insecta), with comments on the phylogeny of the stem group of mayflies (Ephemeroptera). - Insect Systematics & Evolution, 42: 101-138.



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