Ancient Species of Assassin Fly Found Preserved in 100-Million-Year-Old Amber

Posted on April 25, 2014

Burmapogon bruckschi preserved in amber


A previously unknown species of assassin fly, Burmapogon bruckschi, was found preserved in amber. B. bruckschi was under one inch long. Smithsonian scientist Torsten Dikow discovered the new species after studying two 100-million-year-old translucent amber fossils. Assassin flies are named for their hunting strategy. The flies ambush and catch their prey in flight. The flies then puncture the skeleton of their prey, inject them with digestive fluids and then feed.

Dikow says in a statement, "The transparency of these amber fossils gives researchers a new window into the ecology of the Cretaceous period, and sheds light on the evolutionary history of a family of flies that has withstood the test of time for millions of years. The fossils of these ancient flies are so well preserved that you can almost imagine them flying around in our world today."

Dikow identified the new species after studying the morphology of a male and female specimen using a microscope. He noticed distinct features that are not found in modern species of assassin flies. These features include long, flattened antennae, a unique v-shaped eye structure and spiny hind legs.

A research paper on B. bruckschi was published here in American Museum Novitates.

Image: David Grimaldi