Researchers discovered a strange insect trapped in Burmese amber. The creature was so unusual that they had to create a new scientific classification only for it.
Aethiocarenus burmanicus is the alien-like insect that was found to have lived 100 million years ago in today’s Myanmar. The creature was discovered by miners in Hukawng Valley. Scientists found the specimen so strange since it displays some characteristics they had not found before in an insect. It features a triangular head, googly eyes, and a pair of glands on its neck.
One of the co-authors of the study, George Poinar Jr, who is also a paleontologist at Oregon State University, confirmed the uniqueness of the creature in the insect world. This is why they had to create a whole new order to place the insect in.
The order is the way in which scientists classify families of insects. There are 31 orders in the insect world and the approximate number of one million species have a place in this order. There is the order of Coleoptera that includes generally beetles and gathers thousands of insect species.
Other well-known orders are Diptera that includes mosquitoes and Hymenoptera with bees and ants. Thus, the case of this weird insect is unique. In order for it to be placed in an order, scientists created a brand new one, Aethiocarenodea.
What is the most unusual about the appearance of the insect is the triangle-shaped head. The triangle is located with the bottom vertex down. This is the first time when scientists spotted this on an insect and it means it was able to tilt its head to almost 180 degrees. Thus, the little insect was most surely able to spot predators behind itself.
Since the insect was trapped in amber, scientists suggest it lived in the bark of the trees and ate termites, worms, or fungi. It was able to make quick movements by using the long legs and slender body. Also, it kept predators at a distance by secreting toxic chemicals from the neck glands.
The creature eventually became extinct. Its features were probably no longer suited to the changes in the environment. The discoveries of insects trapped in amber offer us precious information about what animals lived in the past and how they survived the former environmental conditions.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons