The life of a mayfly is odd. It lives in nymph form for about a year in freshwater, then emerges for only a single day as an adult to mate, lay eggs and then die.
"After their mating flight mayflies are usually dead by the end of the day," Poinar said. "There's only one thing they really care about on that one eventful day, and it's not eating. They don't even have functional mouth parts."
Clues learned from insect specimens such as this, researchers say, can provide invaluable insights into ancient ecosystems, what life forms existed, and how they may have interacted. Specimens can be preserved in near-perfect form when captured in tree sap that later becomes fossilized into amber, a semi-precious stone.
This particular fossil came from the Hukawng Valley of Burma, now known as Myanmar. It was formed between 97 and 110 million years ago. The findings of this study were published in Historical Biology, a professional journal.
"She was a very young female," Poinar said. "I named the genus Vetuformosa, which in Latin means old and beautifully formed."
|Contact: George Poinar, Jr.|
Oregon State University