Researchers have found a 47.5 Million years old fly with a stomach full of food and plant residues in the Messel, Germany. The fly belongs to the short-proboscid nemestrinids species and genus Hirmoneura. Scientists know very little about the eating preferences of this group of flies.
The living species of the planet always are under interaction with each other for millions of years. Some insects help the flora in the natural process of pollination by the dispersion of pollens. This supporting process is occurring for the last 120 million years. Researchers have come across fossils that provide straight evidence of pollen feeding. The discovery of the presence of pollens and other floral residuals in the stomach and gut of the insect fossil is too rare and exceptional. These types of findings provide the possibility to know about the behaviour of the animals and their interaction with plants. In the case of nemestrinids, scientists had not discovered any record of pollinivory in past.
Recently, researchers have analysed the swollen abdomen of a 47.5-Million-year-old nemestrinid fly. They have used various methods such as palynological approaches and photogrammetry. They found pollen remains of various floral families i.e., Sapotaceae, Vitaceae, Oleaceae, and Lythraceae.
The fossil remains of the fly were found in the Messel Pit of Darmstadt in Germany. Geologically, the Messel Formation belongs to the lower Middle Eocene epoch. The basalt fragment in which the fossil detected was at least 47.5 million years old. The fossil is approximately 11 mm long. It comprises Wings slender of around 9mm.
Researchers are now working on the reconstruction of the subsistence behaviour and habitation of the fly. This discovery denotes the 1st evidence of short-proboscid nemestrinid flies along with food/ pollen in the stomach. In long term, this finding will help in the understanding of the behaviour of insects and their environmental relations with plants.
The research was conducted by Senckenberg Forschungsstation Grube Messel, Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Frankfurt, Messel, Germany, Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach-Institut fu¨r Zoologie & Anthropologie, Georg-August-Universitat, Germany, Natural History Museum, and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA, and University of Vienna.
For the original research article, click on Current Biology.