by Sigrid Harms (dpa) / mb
Petrified dinosaur droppings can be purchased online for very little money. But what researchers have now discovered in prehistoric droppings is unusual: a species of beetle that is 230 million years old.
Uppsala / Jena – Almost complete specimens of early species of beetles are estimated to be around 230 million years old fossilized dinosaur droppings Lasts. An international group of researchers managed to name the insects Triamexa Coprolithica Make it visible with the help of so-called microtron imaging, as in a specialized magazine „Current Biology” Writing.
The fossil excrement contained many parts of the beetles, most of which were of the same small species. Some animals have been almost completely preserved, with many sensitive legs and antennae intact.
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3D model of primitive beetle
With the help of their recordings, the researchers reconstructed a 3D model of the beetle. “I was really surprised to see how well the beetles are preserved. When I replicated them on the screen, it was as if they were looking directly at you,” says lead author Martin Kvarnstrom from Uppsala University in Sweden. Researchers from Taiwan, Mexico and France as well as Rolf Beutle from University of Jena.
Researchers believe the insects were eaten by a relatively small dinosaur, Celesaurus. He had an estimated body weight of 15 kilograms and lived in what is now Poland about 230 million years ago.
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Extinct insect species in coprolite
With the discovery that fossilized droppings, also known as coprolite, can contain ancient species of insects, a new field is opened for researchers. To date, amber has mainly provided the best preserved insect fossils.
The oldest ones, however, are about 140 million years old, and are therefore a relatively new geological age. With coprolites, researchers hope to be able to look further into the past and learn more about the evolution of insects in hitherto unexplored time periods.