Treasure trove of arthropods found in Cretaceous African amber

Researchers have recently unearthed a bounty of fossil-bearing amber in Ethiopia. These 95 million year old amber pieces contain a variety of life forms including plants, fungai, bacteria, nematodes and many species of arthropods. The arthropods found in the amber include springtails, fairy wasps, thrips, Zorapterans (a species-poor Insect order that I had never heard of), and arachnids. Here are some shots of the arthropod amber inclusions.

Arthropod amber inclusions for Cretaceous Ethiopia. From left to right: A false fairy wasp (Mymarommatidae), a thrips (Merothripidae), and a Zorapteran. Adapted from Schmidt et al., 2010.

These sort of amber fossils are especially useful in piecing together the complex interplay of life in ancient ecosystems. They provide a snapshot of a wide variety of contemporary and interdependent life that other fossil types do not preserve. This find helps fill in some especially troublesome gaps in Cretaceous African biodiversity.

Read more at Wired or get the paper at PNAS; but don’t tell this guy about it:

Interesting trivia: John Hammond in 'Jurassic Park' was played by Richard Attenborough, elder brother of naturalist David Attenborough.


2 Responses to “Treasure trove of arthropods found in Cretaceous African amber”

  1. 1 zombieroach April 7, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Zorapterans are pretty common in the eastern US and easy to find (if you know where to look). They are pretty much only found in logs or wood debris and look like small termites; they often occupy the same habitats. There are only about 30 species in 1 family and only about 3 in the United States. None are in the west except Hawaii.

    Cool pics!

  2. 2 complex website design August 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to “return the favor”.
    I am trying to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use a
    few of your ideas!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

I have moved.
Arthropoda can now be found here.

Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

Flickr Photos


%d bloggers like this: