Jurassic insect fossils show it carried eggs hanging from its leg

Brood care is a different level of parenting for these ancient insects. They are quite protective of their eggs or young offspring, carrying them like grapes in a vine.

According to LiveScience, fossils of Jurassic insects that appear to bear clusters of eggs dangling from their legs may be the earliest evidence of brood care in an insect species. The 160-million-year-old fossils were excavated from the Haifanggou Formation, also known as the Jiulongshan Formation, a geological fossil-filled rock deposit location near the village of Daohugou in northeast China. China.

A variety of fossils have been discovered at the same site in the past, including preserved remains of feathered dinosaurs, ancient mammals, giant fleas and long-horned scorpionflies.

The recent discovery reached nearly 160 fossilized water bugs Karataviella popovi from the Daohugou biota of the Middle-Upper Jurassic. 30 adult females carry clutches of eggs on their left midtibia, an asymmetric egg-carrying behavior unknown in any extinct and extant insects.

A unique hatching strategy

Study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences represents evidence of well-preserved maternal first instinct K.popovi females, dating back at least to the Middle-Upper Jurassic, and highlighting the existence of various brooding strategies in Mesozoic insects.

According to the study authors’ description, the densely packed eggs were arranged in five or six staggered rows, with six to seven eggs per row, each attached by a short “egg stalk.” Each egg measures approximately 0.04 to 0.05 inches (1.14 to 1.20 millimeters) across which is considerably a hefty size since K.popovi adults are only about 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) long.

While the eggs were anchored to their left midtibia, attached by sticky mucus, and then performing specific abdominal flexing movements, “the unoccupied right midtibia could have been used to maintain balance when swimming and swimming. ‘diet,’ the authors reported.

These huge water bug eggs are also likely to contain enough nutrients for their offspring. However, laying large eggs also comes at a cost, the authors noted, as large eggs are “more difficult to aerate with oxygen than small eggs, due to their low surface area to volume ratio.”

As a result, the team hypothesized that carrying eggs on their legs allows the eggs to jiggle gently on their stalks, while the K.popovi maximized the flow of oxygen from the surrounding water to their developing offspring.

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Evolution of brood care in insects

“To our knowledge, carrying a cluster of eggs on [one] The leg is a unique strategy among insects, but is not unusual among aquatic arthropods,” the study authors wrote, referring to crustaceans. the evolutionary and adaptive importance of brood care in insects.”

Additionally, their discovery also reveals that a specialized filter capture device K.popovi probably represents pre-adaptations originally used to trap contemporary anostracan (fairy shrimp) eggs for food.

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