A description of a so-far overlooked, but important fossil in amber
One of the world´s most prestigious scientific journals, Science, commented on the research of two students of a palaeontologist Peter Vršanský from the Institute of Zoology SAS and the Earth Science Institute SAS. They have described one of the most common and most important fossils in Myanmar’s amber. A doctoral student of the Institute of Zoology SAS, Jan Hinkelman, and an intern at the Earth Science Institute SAS, Lucia Vršanská, published a revolutionary study of micro-organisms from times of the dinosaurs in the German multi-disciplinary journal Science of Nature. Immediately, the Science itself commented on it.
“The emphasis is on the description of a new cockroach Mesoblatta maxi found in amber, which is 98 million years old and comes from the Asian Myanmar (former Burma). Adult individuals, but also the young ones have been described together with the faeces, and they represent the so-called tracks after the activity of extinct organisms. The microscopic observations proved the presence of a perfectly preserved protozoans, bacteria and pollen from times of the dinosaurs,” said Peter Vršanský.
The palaeontologist further states that the modern cockroaches and termites contain similar symbiotic protozoans in stomachs and also the whole rich microbial community.
“The most important fossil is described as Chlamydomonas hanublikanus, a new species of green algae in the flagellate and cystic stage. These circular cysts are paradoxically the most common fossil in Myanmar´s amber, present in every piece of 110 collected tons. So far, it has either completely escaped attention, or has been considered as dead particles, dust particles,” said the palaeontologist.
The research pointed out to immensely rich micro-flora and micro-fauna, and it practically lays out a whole new direction leading to the understanding of land ecosystem from times of the dinosaurs. Another research leads up to the description of the first complex communities of micro-organisms, but also viruses which have practically no way to be preserved outside of amber.