November 7, 2013 in Nation/World

Fossil depicts bugs in love

 

Talk about getting caught in the act: Scientists say a fossil recovered in northeastern China depicts two insects locked in sexual congress roughly 165 million years ago – the oldest such relic ever discovered.

In a paper published online Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, paleo entomologists described the amorous bugs as an extinct species of froghopper that exhibited striking similarities to their modern-day relatives.

Most remarkable, scientists said, was the fact that today’s froghoppers mate in the same fashion their fossilized forebears did in the Middle Jurassic period: belly to belly, or side by side.

“Froghoppers’ genitalic symmetry and mating position have remained static for 165 million years,” concluded lead author Shu Li, of Capital Normal University in Beijing, and her colleagues.

Fossil records of mating insects are rare. To date, fewer than three dozen known relics exist of copulating fireflies, mosquitoes, bees, ants, water striders and other bugs. Most are preserved in amber, researchers said.

Los Angeles Times


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