Broken pieces of tiny Cretaceous insect genitals have recently been brought together after more than a decade. It is reported by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
Researchers have described a new species of killer bed bugs based on a well-preserved fossil dating back about 50 million years ago. When a fossil was discovered in Colorado in 2006, it was split in half; when the stone around him split in two, each half supported half of the insect’s body. The separation was almost perfect, yet the pygofor – the male insect’s genital capsule the size of a grain of rice – was broken in such a way that its original shape was unknown, the scientists said in a statement.
The fossil specimen sold both pieces of the fossil to different buyers. But when researchers pooled the fossilized halves and analyzed them together, looking at the genitals allowed scientists to identify the insect as a newly discovered species of carnivorous bugs, also called killer beetles.
The journal Papers in Palaeontology reports that the researchers named the bugs Aphelicophontes danjuddi. The name is given in honor of the fossil collector Dan Judd, “because of his donations to the collection of paleontology of the Illinois Natural History Study,” – said paleontologists. The genus of the insect comes from the Latin word “aphelicus” meaning “old” and “phontes”, which means “killer” or “killer” in Latin, the researchers said.
The insect, which was 12.4 mm long, had an elongated and slender body. The pygophore, located in the lower abdomen, does not exceed 3.1 mm in length. Scientists have reported that the unique characteristics of male genitalia are rapidly evolving, which is why they are often used to distinguish between closely related species of killer insects.