As if finding a dinosaur tail in amber wasn’t enough now there are 2 100-million-year-old insects preserved in amber? This goes to show us how little we know about the planet we inhabit.
This new finding has thrown the scientific world into a frenzy. According to a member of the discovery team, Oregon’s State University George Poinar Jr reported that this new finding was like nothing he had ever seen before and was truly unique in the insect world so much that it was given a new order in taxonomic classification.
Before this discovery, there were about one million different insect species which belonged to either of their respective 31 orders. Coleoptera is the largest order with hundreds of thousands of known species which include weevils and beetles.
Developing a new order for classifying insects is quite rare but because of the atypical characteristics of the insects—alien-like eyes, flat and long body, triangle-shaped head and slender legs the creation of a new order was necessary.
The insects were given the taxonomic name of Aethiocarenus burmanicus which now makes the total number of orders within that same class to be 32. With the new order being called Aethiocarenodea—a reminder to those who forgot biology 101, an order is a taxonomic category that lies between class and family.
According to Poinar, the insect has a bizarre head which is similar to how we portray aliens. Poinar even went ahead and created a Halloween mask that looked like the head of the insect but the mask scared trick-or-treaters so much he had to take it off.
Even more strange, are the protruding eyes on the side of the head which would make it to have an almost 360-degree view of its surrounding including directly behind itself. Additionally, the presence of special glands at the base of its head (neck region) indicate that the insect might have secreted chemicals that would ward off predators.
You could think of this defense mechanism as something similar to the formic acid secreted by the ants in the family Formicinae.
Additional characteristics include a flat long narrow body, elongated thin legs—particularly the hind pair which are twice as long as the abdomen, absence of wings, bulging eyes, secretory glands at the necks’ dorsum, double ocelli, and an inflamed abdomen which has paired segmented appendages.—the team.
According to the team, this bizarre insect is presumed to be extinct as it’s only been identified from the amber specimens that were discovered. The cause of its extinction is shrouded in mystery but it is believed to be an omnivore some 100-million years ago, from the ancient forms of Burma.
So, don’t worry about finding it while trick-or-treating next Halloween only its mask form.
The insect is believed to have spent most of its time—obviously when it was alive, scampering up trees where it most likely fed on worms, fungi, and mites.