Ancient Insects Used Advanced Camouflage
By Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 26 December 2006
A fossil of a leaf-imitating insect from 47 million years ago bears a striking resemblance to the mimickers of today.
The discovery represents the first fossil of a leaf insect (Eophyllium messelensis), and also shows that leaf imitation is an ancient and successful evolutionary strategy that has been conserved over a relatively long period of time.
Scientists led by Sonja Wedmann of the Institute of Paleontology in Bonn, Germany, unearthed the remains at a well-known fossil site called Messel, in Hessen, Germany.
It also shared features with modern insect relatives in size, shape, and the designs used for camouflage.
For instance, the fossil had foliage-like extensions from its abdomen.
During the day to hide from overhead predators, a leaf insect can stay still for long periods of time, tucking its head into its body to strengthen the leafy appearance.
The fossil insect apparently did the same, as the scientists found its fore legs were curved and formed a notch where the insect’s head could be inserted.
At night, when the nocturnal insects are active they rock back and forth like a leaf fluttering in the wind.
More on this, in German, here.
See also here.
Eocene fossil cashew nuts in Germany: here.
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