Sometimes treasures can be found in the most unlikely places. A piece of fossilized poo from a dinosaur relative has been discovered by paleontologists and it contains a beetle species that is 230 million years old.
Martin Qvarnstrm from Uppsala University, Sweden and his collaborators used powerful Xrays to scan small fragments of fossilized animal waste found in southern Poland. These faeces were found in southern Poland and belong to Silesaurus Opolensis, a beaked dinosaur ancestor who lived there during the Triassic period, which spans the time from 250 million to 200 millions years ago.
Researchers discovered that excrement contained almost complete fossils from a previously unknown species of insect. Triamyxa Coprolithica was named the creature by the researchers. It measures approximately 1.5 millimetres long and is the only member of an extinct beetle family whose modern relatives live off algae. The ancient beetle may have also lived in moist environments, just like its modern cousins.
Although insect fragments have been previously found in fossilized faeces of vertebrates, this is the first time researchers have discovered intact insects. The authors suggest that scientists could learn more about the evolution of insects and the food webs of the past by studying preserved dung.