An unknown species of an ancient caterpillar preserved in amber was discovered by German researchers in the European Baltic Sea region. It is known that the sample found was identified as the larva of a large butterfly species called the Eogeometer vadens. The caterpillar, whose age exceeds 44 million years, has a length of 0.2 inches and is the first large fossil butterfly found in Baltic amber.
The oldest caterpillar of the planet
According to an article published on newsweek.com, amber beads are a rarity in the scientific world because of the predominantly nocturnal lifestyle of most larvae. The caterpillar had fallen into the resin trap of an ancient tree that finally froze into amber, waiting 44 million years for its discovery, with the details of its structure almost entirely intact.
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According to the study, the vadens eogeometer belongs to the family of the Geometridae butterflies, whose caterpillars are unusual compared to caterpillars of other butterfly groups, as they have only two or three pairs of legs and not five, the most common number. This reduced number of legs means that they move in a somewhat unusual way.
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Butterflies of the genus Geometridae are also representatives of one of the three largest butterfly families with around 23,000 different species. Most species of this whole family live on trees and shrubs.
According to the researchers, finding a butterfly larva will help understand the evolutionary processes that took place during the Eocene, which lasted 56 to 33.9 million years before the initial spread of flowering plants. At the same time, scientists are finding that the discovery of an old caterpillar is not the first case in recent months, when scientists announced the discovery of a new species from samples preserved in amber. In a study published last month, scientists have discovered the existence of microscopic creatures in the distant past that received the flattering name "mold hogs." Then unique creatures were not just a new species, but also a whole new class of invertebrates.