New species of beetles found in dinosaur droppings

The insects discovered from the time of the dinosaurs are preserved in amber. However, a new species of prehistoric beetle was discovered in fossilized dinosaur dung.

new species of beetles
The tiny beetle “Triamyxa coprolithica” is the first insect to be described from fossil faeces. Image from DW
Fossilized dinosaur droppings hold a wide variety of insects like this new species of beetle

Fossilized dinosaur droppings are called coprolite. You can also preserve insects. Some of the species, like this new beetle, are intact with all of their parts.

Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden were surprised by the finding when they scanned the feces. They named the new beetle specimen Triamyxa Coprolithica. They estimate that it lived around 230 million years ago.

The name refers to the time he lived, the Triassic. It’s also related to the subordination it belongs to, Myxophaga. With the addition of where they found it, a coprolite.

When they scanned the coprolite, they found the insect intact. Although the same droppings contain many parts of insects. Only a few of them were in excellent condition.

It doesn’t happen with coprolite like it does with amber. Insects are not perfectly preserved. Both materials withstand centuries and, above all, environmental changes.

The discovery opens up many research opportunities

The research team was integrated with researchers from Sweden by others from Mexico, Taiwan, France and Germany. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

As a result of the findings, biopalaeontologists can study the life and diet forms of prehistoric insects. Many species of beetles find a perfect home in the excrement of large animals.

Piece of petrified feces. Photo: Getty Images. Image from National Geographic

The petrified droppings are also attractive for learning about the eating habits of the large dinosaurs. Mainly carnivore droppings, which contain bacteria that mineralize faster than herbivorous soil.

According to the scientists who found the new beetle, the droppings belong to a small dinosaur. The species Silesaurus weighed no more than 15 kilograms. He lived in what is now Poland 230 million years ago.

Although the finding opens a new window in paleontological research through coprolites. So far, unknown insect species have been discovered preserved in amber. However, these are less old, around 140 million years old. Hence the coprolites take on a better dimension for studying much older species.

This allows science to go back to unexplored times regarding insects that spent their time with dinosaurs. Science has had no way of studying the life of these insects during the Triassic, so the expectation is even higher.

The newly scanned species was reproduced in a 3D image at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France. A new species that opens the way to other unexpected discoveries.

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