Camouflaged Insects Found in 100 Million Year Old Amber Fossils

Posted on July 6, 2016

Owfly larva in amber using camouflage

Ancient insects also made use of camouflage to hide from predators or prey. Scientists from the University of Bonn have examined early insect camouflage uses in 100 million year old amber fossils. The images above show owlfly larvae camouflaged with ground litter and tiny stones. The larva likely used the camouflage to conceal themselves while waiting for prey.

The researchers say some predatory insects also used remains of their prey for concealment. The image below shows a lacewing larva wearing the remains of prey. The larva's camouflage includes pseudoscorpions, scale insects, psyllids, as well as various kinds of plant material.

Prof. Dr. Jes Rust of the Steinmann-Institute of the University of Bonn, says in a statement, "With this 'disguise', the lacewing larva pretends to be someone completely different. Using the pieces of its prey, it even takes on the smell of the pseudoscorpion."

Lacewing larva in amber using camouflage


The researchers studied amber samples from Myanmar, France, and Lebanon. They say some larvae fashioned a kind of "knight's armor" from grains of sand, perhaps to protect against spider bites. Others cloaked themselves in plant residue, in order to become one with their surroundings.

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, Science Advances.

Photos: Bo Wang, Nanjing

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