And they’re pretty much the same evil creatures. Around 35 fossils of mosquitos have been discovered in Eocene deposits in northwestern Montana. These fossils have been remarkably preserved, with wing veins, sexual organs and even the scales and hair-like structures on the wings kept intact.
Often bug fossils are found trapped in amber. However, these ones are compression fossils, made of shale. The conditions for this to have happened are extremely rare – the mosquitos would have had to die and settle at the bottom of a very shallow body of very calm water that had an extremely thin annual sediment layer – a thickness of only a few hundred microns!
But what’s also incredible is that the mosquitos themselves are so very similar to the ones we’ve got today. General consensus says that one species of insect generally only makes it through one million or two million years. Given how lucky these fossils are, we could even extend it to the extreme maximum of maybe 10 million. And yet after 50 million years, the mosquitos form is really similar – a few morphological differences allow us to distinguish between different species, but on the whole, they’re pretty much the same bloodsuckers.
So are mosquitos the perfect bug? No need for too much evolution over 50 million years? Seems they’re a secret superbug…of perfect design. A religion could totally be built around this. Mosquitoism.
Co-cuthors Dale Greenwalt and Ralph Harbach from the Natural History Museum in London have written a paper in Zootaxa about the long extinct mosquitos if you care to read more about it.
[Via Smithsonian Science]