Friday, August 1, 2014

This grasshopper the size of a rose thorn

A sample of amber from the Dominican Republic. Kaitlin and Kevin Southworth.

RARITY . But the centerpiece of this inventory, which is not yet complete, is a small grasshopper "size of a rose thorn" write its discoverers in the journal Zookeys . She was baptized Electrotettix attenboroughi in honor of Sir David Attenborough, British naturalist. She probably ate mosses, algae and fungi. "The locusts are very rare in amber and it is extraordinarily well preserved specimen" says Sam Heads, paleontologist at the University of Illinois.

This grasshopper the size of a rose thorn. Of YouTube screenshot.

STEP . Besides its excellent preservation, this specimen is notable because it represents an intermediate stage in the evolution subfamily of crickets and grasshoppers. The oldest representatives of this group had wings, while their modern counterparts do not. The grasshopper has what appears to be rudimentary wings, outdated structures that had already lost their primary function.

"Fossil insects can tell us about the evolution and ecosystem of the ancient world. Probably better than dinosaur bones!" Sam concludes Heads.

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