Ambaric Stasis

Aceria anthocoptes, a random gall miteIn what will have to be the final Daily Science Update before hiatus, Brian Thomas writes Why Do Creatures in Ancient Amber Look So Modern? He’s talking about the recent discovery of the oldest arthropods to be found preserved in amber.

Gall mites are too small to see without aid, but scientists found two of them after scanning 70,000 amber droplets from Triassic beds in Italy. How much have mites evolved in the supposed 230 million years since they were entombed in amber?

Today’s 3,500 species of gall mites live on very specific plant species, and most of them subsist on angiosperms. The majority live on the outer surfaces of their host plant, but some induce plant tissue to form swollen galls in which they live and after which they are named.

The fossil gall mites – four legged arachnids that parasitise plants – we found to have all the defining features of the modern family. Continue reading