DEC 07, 2016 10:44 AM PST

Researchers Find a Fossilized Beetle in Antarctica for the First Time

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

As much of Antarctica remains unexplored because of its vastness and mysteriousness, any discovery that we come across on the white continent can be breathtaking.
 
That is, when scientists say they’ve found the first ever ground beetle fossil in Antarctica, it can not only be breathtaking from a scientific standpoint, but also from a creepy one.
 
Noted in the journal ZooKeys, researchers have done just that. This is reportedly the first-known ground beetle from Antarctica, which in itself is a pretty big discovery, but even more so is the fact that it appears to have living descendants today.  
 

 Image Credit: Allan Ashworth/North Dakota State University

It was found in sediment that was well preserved in the icy cold for a long time. Fossils were also discovered in the same sediment of several types of plant life from the same time period.
 
It’s said that the beetle would have lived anywhere from 14-20 million years ago, and has been categorized as a new species and even has its own genus. It’s being called Ball's Antarctic Tundra Beetle.
 
The fossil isn’t complete; notably it’s only of the insect’s hard wing covers, known as elytra. Because of their shape, researchers believe the beetle may have been capable of flying.
 
“One indication that a beetle has flight wings is if the shoulder of its elytron is kind of square. A beetle that doesn’t fly has rounded, ovoid-shaped elytra,” Smithsonian Entomologist Terry Erwin said in a statement. “These fossil elytra do have shoulders, so this beetle probably had wings and it probably flew.”
 
But the ability to fly wasn’t its only advantage – it could also run pretty fast, which is a quality a predatory insect would have for hunting down prey effectively.
 
“It has a lot of living descendants and all of them are quite fast runners,” Erwin said. “They are predators with prognathous [projecting] mandibles, so they are running around grabbing things—such as other smaller insects—to eat. At the same time, bigger things are chasing and eating them.”
 
There aren’t many known insects to exist in Antarctica, so this beetle is certainly an oddity. Of course, Antarctica wasn’t always how it is today, so given that it once had a habitable climate, the beetle may have felt right at home in the earlier days of Earth.
 
Source: Smithsonian Insider, Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 24, 2020
Technology
MAR 24, 2020
3D Printing Cellulose
Cellulose is a material found in trees and plants that can help build complex structures. The uniqueness of the material ...
APR 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 14, 2020
Why Are Bats So Resistant to Viruses?
Bats are some of the most infamous carriers of zoonotic viruses, which are viruses capable of spreading between both ani ...
APR 17, 2020
Health & Medicine
APR 17, 2020
A Brief History: The Search for the Perfect High
With cannabis coming in closely behind alcohol as the most widely used recreational drug in the United States, researche ...
MAY 07, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 07, 2020
How will Climate Change Impact Arctic Shore Ice?
Many research projects have examined climate change’s impact on sea ice and glaciers. However, shorefast ice, whic ...
MAY 17, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 17, 2020
Male Garter Snakes Trick Others to Improve Own Mating Success
After spending several months in hibernation during the winter, male garter snakes emerge from the underground where the ...
MAY 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 31, 2020
Allosaurus Fossil Bite Marks Indicate Cannibalism
Anyone that has ever watched Hollywood’s famous Jurassic Park films will know that dinosaurs were large and hungry ...
Loading Comments...