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Fossil discovery deepens the mystery of snakes and flies



Fossil discovery deepens the mystery of snakes and flies

The modern dragonfly has a 52 million-year-old fossil snake fly above the driftwood canyon in British Columbia. Image source: Fossil image copyright Zootaxa.

The discovery of fossils often helps answer long-standing questions about how the modern world formed. However, sometimes they only deepen the mystery-proof of the fact that four new species of ancient insects have recently been discovered in British Columbia and Washington State.

The paleontologist Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University and Vladimir Makakin of the Russian Academy of Sciences recently discovered fossil species from a group of insects called snake flies, which have now been shown to live in The area was about 50 million years ago.The research results were published in beastsRaises more questions about the evolutionary history of significantly elongated insects and why they live where they are today.

Snakes are slender, predatory insects, they originated in the northern hemisphere, but the tropics are obviously free of such insects. Traditionally, scientists believed that they needed cold winters to encourage them to grow into adults, thus restricting them almost entirely to areas that experience winter frosts or colder. However, the climate of the fossil site where the ancient species was found does not match this interpretation.

“The annual average climate is as mild as Vancouver or Seattle today, but the important thing is that it has very mild winters with almost no frost,”

; Archibald said. “We can see this through the frost intolerant plants (such as palms) and northern plants (such as spruce) that live in these forests.”

From Driftwood Canyon in northwest BC to the McAbee fossil site in southern BC, to the Republic City in northern Washington, paleontological fossil sites span 1,000 kilometers of ancient highlands.

Fossil discovery deepens the mystery of snakes and flies

A 52 million-year-old fossil snake fly from Driftwood Canyon, British Columbia.Image source: Zootaxa copyright

According to Archibald, paleontologists found two species of Muscidae in these fossil sites, both of which were previously thought to require cold winters to survive. After these fossil species live, each family seems to have adapted to the cold winter independently.

“Now we know that in the early days of its evolutionary history, dragonflies lived in a very mild winter climate, so the question becomes why they don’t maintain their ability to live in such an area? Why are dragonflies not found in tropical regions today? “

In these locations, previous fossil insect discoveries have shown links to Europe, Russia’s Pacific coast and even Australia.

Fossil discovery deepens the mystery of snakes and flies

Archibald in Rafting Canyon Provincial Park. Credit: Bruce Archibald

Archibald emphasized that by understanding the past and understanding how life adapts to the climate, this helps explain why species are distributed across the globe today, and may help predict how further changes in climate will affect this pattern.

“These discoveries have always come from these fossil sites,” Archibald said. “They are an important part of our tradition.”


New fossil discoveries show 50 million years of history between Canada and Australia


More information:
S. Bruce Archibald and others, from the early Eocene dragonfly (Raphidioptera) of western North America formed by the Okanagan Highlands and the Green River, beasts (2021). DOI: 10.11646 / zootaxa.4951.1.2

Courtesy of Simon Fraser University



Citation: Fossil discovery deepens the mystery of snakes and flies (April 6, 2021). The phenomenon was released from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-fossil-discovery-deepens-snakefly- on April 6, 2021. mystery.html search

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