The ancient bug seen below had some awesome camouflage. Like wearing a ghillie suit, it carried around a bundle of leaves and twigs on its body to hide it from predators.
[credit provider=”Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuentea, et al., PNAS, 2012. ” url=”http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1213775110″]
De la Fuente called it Hallucinochrysa diogenesi, a name that is both evocative and cheekily descriptive. The first part comes from the Latin “hallucinatus” and references “the bizarreness of the insect”. The second comes from Diogenes the Greek philosopher, whose name is associated with a disorder where people compulsively hoard trash.
[credit provider=”Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuentea, et al., PNAS, 2012.” url=”http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1213775110″]
The amber-fossilized insect turned out to be 110 million years old and shows this crazy trash-collecting habit that it used as protection — the bristles covering its body would collect detritus from the forest floor, like fern hairs. It’s similar to modern lacewing larvae, which use the same behaviour to hide from predators.The plant matter that was stuck in the insects bristles was actually a type of fern that dominated recently-burned forests, indicating that a forest fire had recently swept through the area, causing trees to weep sap, in which the weird hoarder got trapped.
The description of the insect was published today, Dec. 10, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences.