Prehistoric Colors Preserved in Near-Perfect Beetle Fossils
Despite being tens of millions of years old, some beetle fossils appear almost as they did in life. Not only are their shape and structure preserved, but so are the actual colors of their shells, which have changed only slightly in the intervening eons.
Though relatively little-known, these fossils represent the purest of biological colors retrieved from deep time, far richer than much-celebrated pigment traces of dinosaur plumage and more varied than the hues of a few ancient plants.
From Wired: Science
The parasitic wasp Dinocampus coccinellae prepares to inject a spotted ladybug with a single egg in a file picture. The ladybug has been paralyzed by the wasp’s venom.
In time the egg will hatch into a larva that will develop for a few days and then chew a small hole through the abdomen of the ladybug. The larva will then spin a cocoon between the legs of the ladybug, whose body will rest on top of the cocoon as the larva undergoes metamorphosis.
In a recent study in the journal Biology Letters, scientists note that sometimes the ladybugs survive the larva’s emergence, and in those cases, the D. coccinellae larva then “brainwashes” the bug into defending the vulnerable cocoon from predators, said study co-author Jacques Brodeur, a biologist at the University of Montreal.
“The parasite is taking control of the behavior of its host—that’s why we call it bodyguard manipulation,” said Brodeur, who worked with Ph.D student Fanny Maure.
Full article on National Geographic: Wasps Turn Ladybugs Into Flailing Zombies.