Image of the Day: Scorpionfly Fossils

A piece of ancient amber found in a small Burmese village holds preserved remains that indicate this family of insects survived longer than the Early Cretaceous, as previously believed.

Amy Schleunes
Amy Schleunes
Mar 10, 2020
Scorpionfly remains trapped in a piece of amber represent the first 3-D specimens of the insects scientists have collected, facilitating study of their elongated mouthparts.
Bo Wang, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

A99-million-year-old piece of amber found near a small village in Burma contains the remains of two species of a newly named genus  (Burmopsyche bella and B. xiai) of the Aneuretopsychidae family of long-proboscid scorpionflies, according to a study published on March 4 in Science Advances. The fossils, the first 3-D specimens of their kind found, date back to the Late Cretaceous, upending earlier research on 2-D Aneuretopsychidae samples that concluded the family of insects had gone extinct by the end of the Early Cretaceous, between roughly 100 million and 125 million years ago.

According to a press release, the scorpionflies’ “widely separated claws” may indicate that they “fed on the bloodlike fluid of other insects” in addition to plants.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at aschleunes@the-scientist.com.