Ancient Wasp Species Discovered in Amber Named After Ziggy Stardust

Posted on June 26, 2017

Scientists have discovered two new species of wasps preserved in 100 million year old Burmese amber. One of the wasp species was placed in an existing genus, Archaeoteleia. The ancient species has many similarities to its modern relative but the extant wasp had smaller antennal segments and a different number of teeth on its mandible.

The new species has been named after David Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust. It was given the name Archaeoteleia astropulvis. Astropulvis translates from Latin to "star dust." The study was conducted by researchers from Smithsonian Institution, Ohio State University and Capital of Normal University in Beijing, China.

The amber fossil is the only example of the ancient Stardust wasp. The author says the find "exemplifies the importance of understanding the extant fauna of a taxon to interpret fossils." They also say, "Such union of fossil and extant morphologies is especially illuminating and requires examination of both kinds of specimens."

The second new species belongs to a genus (Proteroscelio) known only from Cretaceous fossils. It is a tiny species less than 2 mm in length. The species are described in a research paper published here in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

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