Academic journal article Science Scope

Fossil Forensics Reveals How Wasps Populated Rotting Dinosaur Eggs

Academic journal article Science Scope

Fossil Forensics Reveals How Wasps Populated Rotting Dinosaur Eggs

Article excerpt

Exceptionally preserved fossils of insect cocoons have allowed researchers in Argentina to describe how wasps played an important role in food webs devoted to consuming rotting dinosaur eggs. The approximately 70-million-year-old eggs from gigantic titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs were discovered in 1989 in the Patagonia region of Argentina, well known for yielding fossils of sauropod dinosaur eggs and even embryonic dinosaurs. Only recently it was discovered that one of the broken eggs contained tiny sausage-shaped structures, two to three centimeters long and one centimeter wide. The structures closely resembled fossilized insect cocoons, and were most similar in size and shape to the cocoons of some species of modern wasp.

There are many records of fossilized dinosaur eggs, and even several records of fossil cocoons, but, as author Jorge Genise of the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales states, "This is the first time that these cocoons are found closely associated with an egg." The results indicate "that wasps probably participated in the food web, mostly composed of scavenging insects, which developed on the rotten egg." The makeup of carrion communities--spiders, beetles, and other creatures populating rotting organic matter--is more familiar to us from the screens of crime-scene investigation documentaries. …

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