The Researcher Found Springtails Hitchhiking On Winged Termite On A 16-Million-Year-Old Fossil

The Researcher Found Springtails Hitchhiking On Winged Termite On A 16-Million-Year-Old Fossil

When attempting to better the odds for survival, a significant dilemma that many animals face is dispersal—with the ability to pick up and leave to occupy new lands, discover fresh resources and mates, and avoid intraspecies competition in times of overpopulation.

For one group of tiny arthropods known as springtails (Collembola), a recent fossil discovery now suggests their reply to this question has been to piggyback on the dispersal abilities of others, literally.

In findings revealed in BMC Evolutionary Biology, researchers on the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Museum national d’Histoire Naturelle have detailed the invention of an ancient interaction preserved in 16-million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic: 25 springtails connected to, and nearby, a big winged termite and ant from the days of the early Miocene.

The fossil reveals a lot of springtails nonetheless connected to the wings and legs of their hosts, whereas others are preserved as if step by step floating away from their hosts inside the amber. Researchers say the invention highlights the existence of a brand new type of hitchhiking behavior amongst wingless soil-dwelling arthropods, and could possibly be key to explaining how symphypleonan springtails efficiently achieved dispersal worldwide.

The hitchhikers the researchers recognized belong to a lineage of springtails discovered at the moment on each continent, generally known as Symphypleona, which they are saying might have been “pre-adapted” too greedy on to different arthropods via prehensile antennae. The researcher notes that proof of springtail hitchhiking might not have been captured in such high numbers till now as a result of the rarity of such a fossilized interaction, in addition to the character of modern sampling strategies for insects, which generally involves submersion in ethanol for preservation.