Science Times - Ancient Beetle Discovered in Fossilized Poop: This 230-Million-Year-Old Find is the First New Species Found in an Unusual Place
(Photo : USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, USA on Wikimedia Commons) Beetle Fossil

Scientists, for the first time, recently discovered an ancient beetle, in an unusual place, specifically in a dinosaur ancestor's fossilized poop.

A Science report specified, discovered whole and unusually intact, the 230-million-year-old beetle called Triamyxa coprolithica is the first insect to be described scientifically, from fossilized feces also identified as coprolites.

Beetles are seen everywhere, and new members of the most diverse group of organisms on Earth are being discovered almost every day.

According to paleontologist Spencer Lucas, at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, who was not part of this work, this is a very exciting study.

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Science Times - Ancient Beetle Discovered in Fossilized Poop: This 230-Million-Year-Old Find is the First New Species Found in an Unusual Place
(Photo: USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, the USA on Wikimedia Commons)
Beetle Fossil

'Coprolites'

The study, "Exceptionally preserved beetles in a Triassic coprolite of putative dinosauriform origin," published in Current Biology, is cutting edge and an exploration of a totally new area of paleontology that has just been understood in the past decade.

Coprolites, as indicated in the study, are abundant in museum and research collections all over the world. However, until recently, according to Lucas, few scientists studied what he described as "little capsules of incredible fossil record" for their content, mainly due to the fact that researchers did not think tiny insects could pass successfully through a digestive system and result in an identifiable form.

As an alternative, paleontologists got the majority of their information about the evolution of insects from the unfortunate ones trapped in amber or fossilized tree resin.

Nonetheless, these fossils are not very old in terms of geology. The most ancient ones have dated back to approximately 140 million years ago.

230-Million-Year-Old Beetle

To find out if coprolites could certainly preserve insect remains, paleontologist Martin Qvarnström from Uppsala University, together with colleagues, investigated fossilized droppings from Poland that have been linked before to the Triassic period, about 230 million years back.

A similar UPI report said, the researchers selected a coprolite fragment almost two centimeters in length that, based on its broken ends, suggested it was part of a much bigger piece that might more possibly contain some objects inside it.

They then subjected the entire sample to an intense x-ray beam at a synchrotron. By rotating the coprolite in the beam, the researchers developed 3D reconstructions of the contents of the coprolite.

What the study investigators discovered astounded them-incredibly preserved, almost complete insects just 1.4 millimeters in length and fragments such as antennae, legs, and heads.

Originating from Beaked Dinosaur Ancestor

The newly-discovered ancient beetle, according to the researchers, came from dung believed to have been excreted by a baked dinosaur ancestor called Silesaurus opolensis, as described in A Dinosaur A Day site, roughly 2.3 meters long.

The beetles were well preserved since coprolites are acting as microenvironments that can preserve organic material, which includes soft tissues, minus any of the flattening that is coming with other types of fossil.

According to co-author of the study, entomologist Martin Fikáček, at the National Sun Yat-sen University, the extinct beetle possibly belonged to a group identified as Myxophaga, tiny beetles that survive on algae in wet habitats.

Moreover, the team classified the new find taxonomically by noting shared characteristics such as the number of abdomen segments or the antennae's position, to modern Myxophaga, of which four lineages still survive at present.

Related information about fossil discovery is shown on Blast World Mysteries' YouTube video below:

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