Imagine that you are a scientist and you are digging through the forests of Burma. You find some amber, that hardened sap that makes such beautiful jewelry.
Amber, the stuff that often holds fossil insects trapped millions of years ago by a drop of sap.
Now imagine that when you look through a microscope at your amber, you see something that no human has ever seen. It’s a 100 million year old insect, and it’s completely unlike anything that has been discovered.
This insect is so odd looking that the scientist who actually did discover it, Professor George Poinar of Oregon State University, said it looked like an alien. He said:
The strangest thing about this insect is that the head looked so much like the way aliens are often portrayed. With its long neck, big eyes and strange oblong head, I thought it resembled E.T.”
The alien insect has a triangular shaped head, with the neck being one point. The other two points, on either side of the three sided head, are round and big.
You know. Like so many aliens featured in movies and comic books over the years. Sort of creepy and horrifying and likely to pop up in your nightmares late on dark nights.
It also had a long, thin body and long, wiggly, flexible legs. The strange alien head and eyes meant that the thing could literally see behind itself, just by turning its head a bit. Creepy!
The fossil insect was a tiny, wingless female. It most likely lived in the bark of trees, the Professor said. It probably ate almost fungus, tiny mites and other small organisms.
What was so intriguing, though, was that the insect was so unlike any other known insect that it had to be given its own “order” as a way of categorizing it. The Professor said:
I had never really seen anything like it. It appears to be unique in the insect world, and after considerable discussion we decided it had to take its place in a new order.”
I know that scientists worry about all the different species of organisms that are going extinct so rapidly. I know that’s not indicative of a healthy ecosystem.
Personally, though, in this case I think that extinction was a really good thing. I wouldn’t want to be sitting under a tree in Burma and have one of these little bug eyed aliens land on my bare neck.
Here’s a video of the discovery.
Featured image via YouTube screengrab.