In the amber preserved dragonfly with bitten head. On the left in the picture you can see the foot of a lizard. Credit George Poinar
Read aloud A scene with a touch of Halloween has preserved a piece of amber for millions of years: trapped in the resin is a headless dragonfly and parts of the lizard, probably responsible for this mutilation. This spectacular find has now been described by American researchers. According to the scientists, the discovery is not only curious, but also of scientific importance: The trapped dragonfly is the oldest ever discovered in amber. In addition, the conserved scene shows very clearly that the predator-prey behavior of lizards and insects has not changed since the time about 100 million years ago. The scene, reflected in the amber, has taken place in a jungle that covered parts of today's Myanmar 97-101 million years ago. After the dragonfly's lizard had bitten off its head, a drop of resin apparently covered the two animals and kept them captive. Apart from her head, the dragonfly was preserved almost perfectly in the episode. By contrast, only one foot and one tail of the lizard have remained in the amber. "It's a pity we do not have the whole lizard, because it probably had the head of the dragonfly in its mouth, " comments George Poinar of Oregon State University in Corvallis.

According to the scientists, the dragonfly belongs to a hitherto unknown sub-family of dragonflies. The oldest fossils of dragonflies are about 300 million years old, but these are fossilized imprints - according to the researchers, the most recent find in amber is the oldest of its kind. "Dragonflies are enormously exciting insects, because they have managed to do so for a very long time and to exist on Earth almost unchanged, "says Poinar.

The dangers to which the dragonflies were exposed also seem to have remained unchanged. In the millions of years that other species evolved and disappeared, the fight between lizards and dragonflies apparently remained the same: "The scene preserved in amber could have just happened - but then maybe a few dinosaurs were passing by, " says Poinar. Perhaps also the young animals of the dinosaurs have nourished the flying delicacies, speculates the scientist.

Press release from Oregon State University at Corvallis dapd / Martin Vieweg advertisement


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