Updated April 4th, 2020 at 13:59 IST

Fossil in Australia shows flies preserved in amber 41 million years ago

Researchers also discovered many other species of flies frozen trapped inside amber samples in the fossils from the Late Triassic and early Paleocene period.

Reported by: Zaini Majeed
| Image:self

A recent discovery of a rare fossil in Victoria, Australia has a pair of mating flies that died and got preserved in the amber for 41 million years in the same posture, as per the open-access study published in a scientific journal. It is the oldest Australian fossil of mating species found on the record unearthed by the Monash University's School of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment in Melbourne. 

The researchers also discovered many other species of flies frozen trapped inside amber samples in the fossils from the Late Triassic and early Paleocene period.  After treating the fossils for microscopic assessment, several unique preserves were discovered like the ants from southern Gondwana, the first Australian fossils of wingless hexapods, also known as "slender springtails", a cluster of spiders, two liverwort, two moss species and biting midges, all encased since over a period of thousands of years. 

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Evolution of modern Australian biota

Jeffrey Stilwell, a paleontologist at Monash University and the study's lead author, said in a press release, “Amber is considered to be a holy grail in the discipline, as organisms are preserved in a state of suspended animation in perfect 3D space, looking just like they died yesterday." According to the study, amber is brittle and many samples were either collected as broken fragments from the core or burst during extraction. He further added explaining the importance of the finding “the fossils are many millions of years old, they provide us with an enormous amount of information on ancient terrestrial ecosystems”. 

The preserves were collected from Tasmania's Macquarie Harbour Formation and Victoria's Anglesea Coal Measures, dating back over 50 million and 40 million years by a team of scientists from Australia, Spain, Italy, and the UK. "The research furthers our understanding of prehistoric southern ecosystems in Australia and New Zealand during the Late Triassic to mid-Paleogene periods (230–40 million years ago),” Stilwell emphasized. The findings provided the scientists an insight into the origin and evolution of the modern Australian biota, as per the research published. 

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Published April 4th, 2020 at 14:08 IST