Australian researchers find amber with flies copulating

Hyperaxion Apr 3, 2020

These and other insects discovered by paleontologists may provide unprecedented information on the evolution of Australia’s ecosystems.

Scientists at Monash University in Australia have identified fossils of various animals and insects that lived in the country millions of years ago. But what really stands out are two flies (Dolichopodidae) mating trapped in amber. According to the authors, the discovery may provide information about the Australian ecosystem from millions of years ago.

Amber with flies copulating
Two flies (Dolichopodidae) mating trapped in amber. (Credit: Monash University).

The study on the findings was published last Thursday (2), on Nature. According to Professor Jeffrey Stilwell, lead author of the research, this is one of the greatest discoveries in paleontology in the country. “Amber is considered a ‘Holy Grail’, as the organisms are statically preserved in a perfect 3D space, looking like they died yesterday – but in fact are many millions of years old – providing us with an enormous amount of information about the ancient life of animals,” he said in a note.

Stilwell and his team studied more than 5,800 pieces of amber with preserved animals, plants and microorganisms. The discoveries were made in two Australian territories: the island of Tasmania, with fossils dating from 54 to 52 million years ago; and the state of Victoria, with findings from 42 to 40 million years old.

Although most of the studied amber came from the Northern Hemisphere, the group confirmed that the fossils found were from Gondwana, a supercontinent that included what are now South America, Africa, India, Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand. “Our findings provide exciting new insights into the origin, antiquity and evolution of the modern Australian biota and show that there may be a vast potential for future, similar finds in Australia and New Zealand,” said the research leader.

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amber Australia

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