European and Chinese scientists have found an insect preserved in amber in a valley located in Myanmar, Southeast Asia. It is the oldest cave-dwelling animal ever found.
In the world of paleontology there are few arthropod fossils that lived in caves before the Cenozoic era, which started about 65 million years ago.
But a new study, published on February 11 in the scientific journal Gondwana Research, brings new information about the insects that inhabited the world before that period.
The oldest cave-dwelling animal ever found
In the research, a team of scientists from Slovakia, Russia and China presented a 99 million-year-old cockroach preserved in amber that would be the oldest animal to live in a cave.
Contemporary to dinosaurs
Mulleriblattina bowangi, as it was named, was found in the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar. Measurements made by the researchers indicate that it lived in the Cretaceous period, 99 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs still inhabited the planet.
Adapted to living in caves
Paleontologists described the cockroach in the study as having a small size, dysfunctional wings, extremely long antennae, pale color and reduced eyes – indicating an adaptation to life in the dark environment of a cave.
It is different from modern cockroaches
The specimen belongs to Nocticolidae, a philological family to which cockroaches belong. But, according to the study’s authors, the insects that torment humans today are nothing like what they found.
The species separated and evolved independently
They believe that when the supercontinent Gondwana (landmass corresponding to the territories of Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, Indian subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula) separated, the cockroach species differentiated and acquired their own characteristics.