Ancient Insects Fossils Revealed Parasitic Wasps Inside Their Hosts

Ancient Insects Fossils Revealed Parasitic Wasps Inside Their Hosts

Studying some ancient insects fossils belonging to fly pupae from the Palaeogene, the researchers made the creepiest discovery of their life. They found 55 parasitic wasp larvae inside their hosts, common fly pupae in this case. Besides, the finding also led scientists to add four never-before-seen wasp species.

According to scientists, the endoparasitoid wasps are one of the most horrifying creatures in the whole world, conceptually speaking. These parasitoids lay their egg inside a host and once the larvae hatch they burst from their hosts, killing it and feeding on its remains. Although it is a very troubling picture to imagine, these wasps’ tactics help them survive easily.

Thomas van de Kamp of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, came up with the idea to use synchrotron X-ray microtomography on the ancient insects’ fossils unearthed from the Quercy region of South-Central France at the end of the 19th century.

Four new parasitic wasps species were found, two of them being named after the Xenomorph from the Alien movies

The fossils, up to 66 million years old, have been studied in the 40s when one researcher also found one parasitic wasp larva inside a fly pupa, but no one continued the research over the time.

However, in 2016, “paleontologist Achim Schwermann, then working at the University of Bonn,” delivered to Thomas van de Kamp “29 of these pupae for scanning,” as the researcher recalls. Then, van de Kamp “was sitting at the imaging beamline of the KIT light source, carefully observing X-ray projections during acquisition.”

He found a parasitic wasp inside one of the 3-mm-long fly pupae.

Afterward, the research started to study the rest of the ancient insects’ fossils using the synchrotron X-ray microtomography. He found 55 parasitoid wasps, in total, some of which belonged two four never-before-seen species.

Two of the new wasp species were named Coptera anka, and Palaeortona quercyensis. The other two were called Xenomorphia resurrecta and Xenomorphia handschini, both after the Xenomorph parasitoid alien from the Alien movies and Eduard Handschin, the first who discovered a parasitic warm inside a fossilized fly pupa in the 40s.


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