Insect escaping amber entombment leaving exoskeleton behind was probably scared

Insect escaping amber entombment leaving exoskeleton behind was probably scared

Discovery of ancient amber published in the journal Fungal Biology revealed that about 50 million years ago, an insect similar to a modern day walking stick escaped amber entombment, and in fear, left behind its exoskeleton. The amber also contains a mushroom and a mammalian hair.

George Poinar Jr., a researcher and amber fossil expert at Oregon State University, said it can be concluded from the discovery that a tiny mushroom was bitten off by a rodent at the base of a tree. The insect may also have attempted to eat the mushroom. But the insect was scared of something that made it run from the spot leaving its skin behind. The hair might have left behind by the rodent that also escaped.

The ancient amber was recovered from the coast of the Baltic Sea in Scandinavia. Some 50 million years ago, Northern Europe featured a vast subtropical forest. It was the time after dinosaurs died, and mammals started thriving all over. There were plants or angiosperms growing. The insect trapped in the Baltic amber was a member of the Phasmatodea order, a group commonly known as stick insects. This kind of insect appears like sticks or leaves.

"It would have shed its skin repeatedly before reaching adulthood, in a short lifespan of a couple months. In this case, the ability to quickly get out of its skin, along with being smart enough to see a problem coming, saved its life”, said Poinar.

The evidence of sap didn't trap a week-old discarded exoskeleton was that the bug skin still had fine filaments when it got entombed. If skeleton would have left long ago, it would have weathered away.

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