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41 million year old amber with a pair of flies having sex

18 April 2020

Recently researchers have discovered an interesting remarkable new find. It is a piece of amber with the inclusion of a pair of long-legged flies having sex! The insects are 41 million years old. Prehistoric insects such as ants, midges, crawlers as well as a pair of copulating flies are one-of-a-kind amber fossils described in Scientific News. Amber fossils are usually found in the northern hemisphere. A place well known for a vast variety of amber fossils is Myanmar which has produced an overwhelming variety of fossils.


The newest paper was headed by Jeffrey Stilwell from the Monash Insititution of Earth, Ambience, and Atmosphere. Stilwell and his coworkers uncovered a huge number of amber pieces, most of which contained inclusions of various pets, plants as well as bacteria. The collection spans a vast amount of time – from the Late Triassic t the Late Middle Eocene. Amber fossils are valuable because they provide a 3D perspective of an organism. They also are a source of information about their specific behavior and life such as a spider attacking a wasp or like in this situation, a pair of copulating long-legged flies, which lived in southern Gondwana during the Late Center Eocene.


Stilwell claims it might be the first amber fossil of this kind in Australia. As he said: Amber is considered to be a ‘holy grail’ in the discipline, as organisms are preserved in a state of suspended animation in perfect 3D space, looking just like they died yesterday (…) But in fact [they] are many millions of years old, providing us with an enormous amount of information on ancient terrestrial ecosystems.”.


A paleontologist from the College of Wisconsin Victoria McCoy informed: “It’s possible one fly was entrapped in the brownish-yellow as well as the various other was a little excited and attempted to mate.”

It is not the first time the inclusion like that to be found. A few years ago in a 100-million-year old piece of Chinese amber, a male damselfly was found attempting to court a woman.

The amber fossils are an extraordinary peek into the ecosystems that existed millions of years ago in southern Pangea, southern Gondwana, and Zealandia. They are between 200 million to 175 million year old landmasses currently identified as South America, Madagascar, Africa, India, Antarctica, and Australia, which broke from the Pangea – the supercontinent. The researchers found a piece of amber that is around 230 million years what makes it the earliest piece to be ever found.

In addition to the copulating flies, a paper provided by Stilwell defines a new species of fossil ants, wingless hexapod, a batch of baby crawlers, liverworts and moss found in amber. Amber is the fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its aesthetic values since Neoith times. Amber is made into many decorative objects and is a valued gemstone. It is usually used in jewelry and in folk medicine it is used as a healing agent.

The researchers continue to search for new species preserved in amber, as a number of them could represent brand new types of animals and bring a new perspective to the current knowledge about the evolution of certain animal groups.