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Insect spotted caring for its young 100 mya

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The new fossil is the only record of an adult female insect from the Mesozoic, an era that spanned roughly 180 million years. The Mesozoic era was the age of the reptiles and saw both the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, as well as the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea.

The female ensign scale insect is preserved in a piece of amber retrieved from a mine in northern Myanmar (Burma). The specimen was trapped while carrying around 60 eggs and her first freshly hatched nymphs. The eggs and nymphs are encased in a wax-coated egg sac on the abdomen. This primitive form of brood care protects young nymphs from wet and dry conditions and from natural enemies until they have acquired their own thin covering of wax.

The behaviour has been so successful for promoting the survival of offspring that it is still common in insects today. Young nymphs hatch inside the egg sac and remain there for a few days before emerging into the outside world. More.

A friend asks, if this is “primitive,” what is “advanced”?


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