|Myrmeleontoid larvae from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber.|
The insect fossils, which date to 100 million years ago, provide the oldest direct evidence of camouflage behavior utilizing debris, according to a study on the finds that is published in the journal Science Advances.
In this case, the creatures in disguise were green lacewing larvae, split-footed lacewings, owlflies and assassin bugs. All were found fossilized in Burmese, French and Lebanese ambers that the researchers analyzed.
Animals that might have lived alongside these insects in disguise could have included everything from dinosaurs to the world's earliest bees.
While the camouflage obviously did not save the insects from their amber entombment, it does show that they were pretty smart, the scientists suggest.
|Reconstruction of green lacewing larva based on the fossil finds.|
The scientists demonstrated their own cleverness by performing detective work that sheds light on what might have happened just before the insects died.
Most of the Burmese amber lacewing larvae were preserved with hair-like tiny growths produced by particular ferns known as gleicheniacean ferns. Two green lacewing larvae were preserved carrying these plant objects, suggesting that the larvae were closely associated with the ferns' habitats.
Read more at Discovery News