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Cicadas have been featured in literature since the time of Homer's Iliad, and as motifs in art from the Chinese Shang dynasty.They have been used in myths and folklore to represent carefree living and immortality.The superfamily Palaeontinoidea contains three families. The Upper Permian Dunstaniidae are found in Australia and South Africa, and also in younger rocks from China.The Upper Triassic Mesogereonidae are found in Australia and South Africa.This high degree of endemism has been used to study the biogeography of complex island groups such as in Indonesia and the Orient.Australian cicadas are found on tropical islands and cold coastal beaches around Tasmania, in tropical wetlands, high and low deserts, alpine areas of New South Wales and Victoria, large cities including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, and Tasmanian highlands and snowfields.The first of these was a forewing discovered in the Taynton Limestone Formation of Oxfordshire, England; it was initially described as a butterfly in 1873, before being recognised as a cicada and renamed Palaeontina oolitica.Cicadas are large insects made conspicuous by the courtship calls of the males.
Most genera are restricted to a single biogeographical region and many species have a very limited range.
They also have three small ocelli located on the top of the head in a triangle between the two large eyes; this distinguishes cicadas from other members of the Hemiptera.