Madrid, Mar 10 (EFE).- The oldest fossil larva on the planet of the Diptera group, to which flies and mosquitoes belong, is 247 million years old, more than the first known dinosaurs, and was found in the port of Estellencs (northwest of Majorca).
The fossil, which was found a few years ago and preserves the structure of the head, some parts of the digestive system and the respiratory system, has now been studied with the latest techniques by an international team that includes Spanish scientists.
The authors have described a new genus and species: “Protoanisolarva juarezi” or Juárez primordial anisopodoid larva, named in honor of Josep Juárez, a Mallorcan who discovered the fossil during some prospecting work.
In the research published in Papers in Palaentology, the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME-CSIC); the Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences (FJBS-MBCN); the National Museum of Natural History of the University of the Sorbonne (France) and the Museum of Natural History of the University of Oxford (Great Britain).
The complete larva, which predates even the first known dinosaurs, had left a faint carbonaceous imprint on the two faces that were exposed when a rock was opened, says the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in a statement.
The fossil preserves the external and internal structure of the head, some parts of the digestive system and, “most importantly, its respiratory system in the form of spiracles,” says Enrique Peñalver from IGME-CSIC and lead author of the study.
Rafel Matamales Andreu, a paleontologist at the Museu Balear de Ciències Naturals and another of the study’s authors, has spent several years unraveling the environment of this region of Mallorca during the Triassic, as well as the changes it underwent over millions of years.
“If we could go back to the beginning of the Triassic, we would see an area of large rivers and floodplains under a climate similar to what we currently find in tropical Africa, alternating dry seasons with rainy seasons,” says the scientist.
When the larva was feeding on organic matter in the soil, not many millions of years ago one of the greatest mass extinctions in the history of life had occurred, ending the Permian period, which wiped out more than 80% of the population. the species of the planet.
“Somehow, we have been able to observe some of the adaptations to the post-apocalyptic environment of the early Triassic by the first known dipterous insects,” says Ricardo Pérez de la Fuente, a researcher at the Oxford Museum of Natural History and also a signatory to the study.
Among these adaptations, a breathing system stands out that “we can still observe in different groups of current insects,” adds the scientist.
Currently, the fossil is being conditioned at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont for its permanent custody in Mallorca.