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December 11 2012

A 110-Million-Year-Old Trash Collector


In a group of insects called green lacewings, larvae often make a habit of decorating themselves with bits of vegetation, insect carcasses, or whatever else the young pick up from their surroundings to use as a disguise as they sneak up on prey and to hide from predators such as birds.

Researchers had long speculated that this was an ancient behavior, but just how ancient was difficult to say until a recent find in Spain. There, in a forest 110 million years ago, a lacewing larvae was encased in amber along with its collection of fern pieces tangled on protrusions on its back.

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