You know the drill: an ancient bug is minding its own business, munching some leaves, buzzin’ some dinos’, when all of a sudden he’s sucked up into a ball of tree resin and winds up in a 21st century laboratory. A team of international scientists has just found the oldest ones in the world. Just like Jurassic Park! But with real scientists and no dinosaur machines (that you know about).
The 230-million-year-old arthropods were found in northeastern Italy by the University of Padova and the University of Gottingen. They’re 100 million years older than the previous oldest known specimen preserved in amber. The three specimens include two new species of mite, along with a new species of early fly.
Just like in the movies, amber really does preserve fossils remarkably well. The mites, for example, tell scientists that they were quite adaptable and shifted their eating habits to plants when it became necessary. It’s an important discovery, and it’s certainly not the scientists’ fault that their research got Spielberged. But still, even without the dinosaurs, wouldn’t it be more fun if, every time we found something new in the ground, we just decided “HEY, WE’RE CLONING THIS! THREE ANCIENT BUGS, COMING UP!”? [PNAS vis Science Daily via Geekosystem]