30 October 2006

One Bee, Two Bee, Old Bee, New Bee

It's officially called Melittosphex burmensis; but for the sake of this entry, I will call him Bennie. Bennie is more than 100 million years old, and will spend the rest of eternity stuck where he has been all these years: in rock-hard amber.

Bennie (pictured) is not only a new species of prehistoric bee; he is also the oldest identifiable bee specimen ever found -- dating back 40 million years before the previous oldest known bee specimen.

What has scientists intrigued -- beyond the ability to date bees farther back than ever before -- is the fact that Bennie possesses features of both bees and wasps, making him an early proto bee. However, it is not likely that Bennie is actually related to modern bees or wasps; rather, he is probably from a branch that started with a common ancestor to our modern bees, but which led to the dead end of extinction.

More about this amazing find is in this article.

No comments: