Oregon State University Scientists Discover 'Alien-Like' 100-Million Year Old InsectBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Oregon State University researchers were able to find a 100-million-year-old insect preserved in amber. What's interesting is that the insect has an "alien-like" look and unusual features that it was placed in its own scientific "order."
Phys.org reported that the new order for the recently-discovered insect is an addition to just 31 existing orders. More may still be added as there are still millions of insects yet to be found.
The findings of the researchers from Oregon State University were published in the journal "Cretaceous Research." It described a small, wingless female insect that is assumed to live in fissures in the bark of trees. It may have fed on mites, worms or fungi at the time of the dinosaurs.
George Poinar, Jr., an emeritus professor of entomology in the OSU College of Science, said that the insect's features do not match any other insect species currently known. He added that the most unusual feature was its triangular head with bulging eyes located at the opposite ends.
It is believed to be an omnivore. It had a long, narrow, flat body and long legs which may have allowed it to move quickly. On its neck are glands that secreted chemicals that it may have used to defend itself against predators.
The insect is assigned to the newly-created order named Aethiocarenodea. Its species has been named as Aethiocarenus burmanicus. This is in reference to the Hukawng Valley mines of Myanmar, known as Burma before, where it was found.
Poinar added that the insect looked similar to the way aliens are portrayed. It had a long neck, big eyes and a strangely shaped head.
According to Science Alert, the insect's extinction was sudden and its cause is still unknown. There is still a lot of research to be done in order for scientists to understand how the new insect lived and whether there are other species similar to it.