Washington, Feb 23 (ANI): Scientists have found an iridescent blue-green beetle that looks like it did 600,000 years ago when it was alive, as its natural body colors have been preserved.
According to a report in Discovery News, the leaf beetle, Plateumaris sp., is one of just two such advanced age insect fossils that retain substantial original color molecules.
Another beetle, dating to 50 million years ago, also appears to have sported the same hues, but the color preservation is better in this middle Pleistocene specimen, project leader Gengo Tanaka told Discovery News.
The male bug, along with other "exceptionally well-preserved insect fossils," was recently excavated from the Hirabaru Formation in Kyushu, Japan.
The male's flash was for females since its "structural color would be used in mating displays," said Tanaka, a researcher at Japan's Gunma Museum of Natural History.
He added that its "color changed from green to dark blue by changing the angle of incident light."
Tanaka and his team removed fragments of the fossil and examined them under high magnification.
The researchers also performed tests to determine the specimen's chemical composition.
The tests revealed original macromolecules, such as chitin (a tough protective substance), protein and amino acids.
The scientists can even reconstruct the last days of the colorful bug's life because it was found near a diving beetle, mud and plant remains.
This "indicates that the leaf beetle lived near a pond or lakeside where reedy grasses flourished," Tanaka said.arker told Discovery News that "these fossils are important because, rather than simply predicting that relatives of animals today were similarly colored, we can prove it." (ANI)