A 100 million-year-old amber trapped beetle is offering scientists clues regarding why bioluminescent insects may have glowed during the cretaceous period – 145 to 66 Million years ago.
A new study published in the Proceedings Of The Royal Society B, states that the Cretophengodes beetle found “preserved with life-like fidelity in amber” has a direct connection to its firefly cousins.
The discovery of a new extinct Elaterid beetle family is significant,” study co-author Erik Tihelka from the School of Earth Sciences said in a statement, “because it helps shed light on the evolution of these fascinating beetles.”
Bioluminescence in ancient beetles has been a mystery for scientists. Studying fireflies—a beetle relative—scientists believe that the bioluminescent glow could have been used as a defense against predators and also for attracting mates.
The scientists were able to see the light organs through the abdomen of the male beetle. That is proof that Cretophengodes were able to produce light 100 million ago.
The majority of light-producing beetles belong to the Elateroidea family. The discovery of this beetle provides the missing fossil link between living families, and in doing so, scientists study the evolution and classification of these beetles.
ARTICLE: EJAZ SHAIKH
SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH
PHOTO CREDITS: THE CONVERSATION