Fossilized insect auctioned on eBay is new species

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London, August 21 : A scientist who bought a fossilized insect on the web auction site eBay for 20 pounds has discovered that it belongs to a previously unknown species of aphid.

According to a report by the BBC, Dr Richard Harrington, vice-president of the UK's Royal Entomological Society, bought the fossil from an individual in Lithuania.

He then sent it off to an aphid expert in Denmark, who confirmed the insect was a new species, now extinct.

The bug has been named Mindarus harringtoni after the scientist.

"I was interested to see what it was because I've worked with a team of people involved in monitoring and forecasting aphids, those of greenfly and their relatives in this country," Dr Harrington told BBC News.

"I looked at it with my team and we thought we could identify it down to the level of genus, but we had no idea what the species was," he added.

Dr Harrington sent the specimen to Professor Ole Heie, a fossil aphid expert in Denmark.

"He discovered that it was something that hadn't been described before," Dr Harrington explained.

The insect itself is 3-4mm long and is encased in a 40-50 million-year-old piece of amber about the size of a small pill.

"It's not uncommon to find insects in amber. But I'm not sure that one has turned up on eBay that has been undiscovered before," said Dr Harrington.

"It's a rather unusual route to come by (a new species)," the researcher, based at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, explained.

According to him, the insect would have fed on a tree called Pinetes succinifer, which is itself now long since extinct.


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