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Strange insect prompts scientists to create new scientific order
A new scientific order has been created for a recently-discovered insect that lived in a region what is now known as Burma nearly 100 million years ago, alongside dinosaurs.
According to a new study published in the journal Cretaceous Research, the tiny insect with an “alien-like” appearance and unusual features was discovered by Oregon State University (OSU) researchers in amber.
The researchers described the ancient fossilized creature as a small, wingless female insect that lived in fissures in trees’ bark. It might have fed on worms, mites or fungi.
It has long neck, big eyes and strange oblong or triangular head, which prompted researchers to say that it resembled E.T. George Poinar, an emeritus professor of entomology from the OSU College of Science, called it “incredibly rare” discovery.
Reporting the discovery, Dr. Poinar said, “This insect has a number of features that just don’t match those of any other insect species that I know. I had never really seen anything like it. It appears to be unique in the insect world, and after considerable discussion we decided it had to take its place in a new order.”
As the specimen couldn’t fit in any of the existing 31 scientific orders, scientists had to create a new one.
There is still a lot of research needed to be done in order to allow scientists to better understand how the new species lived as well as to determine whether there are other unknown species similar to it.
“This insect has a number of features that just don’t match those of any other insect species that I know,” said Dr. Poinar, an emeritus professor of entomology at Oregon State University’s College of Science and co-author of the study, in an OSU press release. “I had never really seen anything like it. It appears to be unique in the insect world, and after considerable discussion we decided it had to take its place in a new order.”
“The distinguishing feature of Aethiocarenus burmanicus sp. et gen. nov. is its unique head, the dorsum of which is shaped like an isosceles right triangle with the hypotenuse at the top and vertex positioned at the base of the neck,” the research paper informed.
As per Tech Times, "The species' unique feature may have helped it survive the forests of what is formerly Burma 100 million years ago but for a still unidentified reason, the insect has disappeared. A likely reason for its extinction is the loss of its preferred habitat. The insect, which researchers think is an omnivore, also features a long, narrow, and flat body as well as long slender legs, which suggest it could have moved around quickly."