How did the bee get to amber? That is what the researchers who found her asked. Preserved in amber, there was a bee with pollen of 100 million years. A theory emerged from his observation. They appear, clinging to it, beetle parasites. They could cause a flight error. Although deadly to the insect, it is a blessing to science today.
A new species
The female bee was trapped in the resin of the tree. Thus it was preserved in amber. It has been identified by the researcher at Oregon State University George Poinar Jr. as a new family, genus and species.
The Middle Cretaceous fossil of Myanmar provides the first record of a primitive bee with pollen of 100 million years. Also the first record of the beetle parasites, which still appear in today's modern bees.
The findings were published in BioOne Complete. They shed new light on the early days of bees, a key component in the evolutionary history and diversification of flowering plants.
Pollinating insects help the reproduction of flowering plants throughout the world. They are ecologically critical as promoters of biodiversity. Bees are the standard carriers because they are generally present in the greatest amount. They are the only group of pollinators that feeds exclusively on nectar and pollen throughout their life cycle.
They come from carnivorous wasps
Bees evolved from apoid wasps, which are … carnivorous! However, not much is known about the changes that the wasps underwent when they made that dietary transition.
Poinar is professor emeritus at the OSU Faculty of Science and an international expert in the use of life forms of plants and animals preserved in amber. He classified the new finding as Discoscapa apicula, in the Discoscapidae family.
The fossilized bee shares traits with modern bees. It includes feathery hairs, a rounded pronal lobe and a pair of spurs on the posterior tibia. But also those of apoid wasps. As the very low antenna basins and certain characteristics of the veins of the wings.
"Something unique about the new family that is not found in any lineage of wasps or apoid bees is a bifurcated landscape," said Poinar, referring to a two-segment antenna base. «The fossil record of bees is quite vast. But most are from the last 65 million years and are very similar to modern bees. Fossils like the one in this study can inform us about the changes that certain wasp lineages experienced when they became palinivores: pollen eaters, ”he added it's a statement.
Numerous pollen grains in Apicula Discoscapa show that the bee had recently been in one or more flowers. “Additional evidence that the fossil bee had visited the flowers is the 21 beetle triungulins, larvae. It is certainly possible that the large amount of triungulins caused the bee to accidentally fly towards the resin.
And shortly after (100 million years), we have it in our hands.