99-Million-Year-Old Bugs Caught In Amber Reveal Prehistoric Secrets of Survival

By: | July 13th, 2020

A number of insects studied by the researchers. (Cai et al., PRSB, 2020)

Knowing details about prehistoric creatures is a challenging task. Most of the information about prehistoric creatures only reflects guesses made by the glimpses offered by the fossil reserves.

However in most of the cases scientists are not able to determine about animal’s coloring. As with time, colors fades and scientists just get a partial view into the past.

In a rare twist, paleontologists’ recently uncovered swarm of prehistoric insects fossilized in amber. Surprisingly, they discovered true coloration in 99-million-year-old insects.

Huang Diying, co-author of the study said, “We have seen thousands of amber fossils but the preservation of color in these specimens is extraordinary,” 

Researchers found the insects in amber were well preserved with incredible colors of purple, blue and metallic green.

Colors in animals offer many hints about the behavior and ecology of animals. Research on the coloration of long-extinct animals can throw some light on ecosystems in the deep geological past.

“The type of color preserved in the amber fossils is called structural color. It is caused by microscopic structure of the animal’s surface,” explained paleontologist Pan Yanhong from the Chinese Academy of Science.

“The surface nano structure scatters light of specific wavelengths and produces very intense colors. This mechanism is responsible for many of the colors we know from our everyday lives.”

The research has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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