Ancient parasitic wasps that were discovered still inside fly fossils were appropriately named Xenomorphia, after the terrifying creatures that ravaged the silver screen in the Alien movies.
Parasitic wasps are creatures that fit the mold of horror movie monsters, which makes the Xenomorphia name a fitting one. Apparently, the horrific practice of parasitic wasps dates as far back as millions of years ago.
Ancient Parasitic Wasps Discovered, Named After 'Aliens' Monsters
A new study published in the Nature Communications journal detailed the discovery of new species of ancient parasitic wasps, after a thorough examination of more than 1,500 fly pupae fossils, dating back between 66 million and 23 million years ago.
The team of researchers, led by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology's Thomas van de Kamp, used a powerful scanning method to look inside 1,510 mineralized fly pupae. They discovered that 55 of them contained parasitic wasps, and also identified four previously unknown species of the insect. The scientists were even able to carry out physical examinations on the new species of parasitic wasps, even while trapped within the fly pupae fossils.
The discovery presents evidence that wasps have been infesting other insects for tens of millions of years. The parasitic wasps, much smaller than the yellow jackets, have needle-like ovipositors that allow them to inject their eggs into other insects. As the wasps grow, they eat their hosts from within and kill them, eventually bursting out of their abdomens.
If that image is a familiar one, that is because one of the most iconic scenes in the Aliens movies involves one of the creatures bursting through the abdomen of a human victim. One of the new ancient parasitic wasp species was named Xenomorphia resurrecta, with the genus Xenomorphia named after the Aliens creatures.
Learning From Ancient Fossils
Studying ancient fossils has continued to provide scientists with a clearer picture of what the Earth looked like millions of years ago. The new species of ancient parasitic wasps is just one of many important discoveries that have recently been made through fossils.
Men working underground in Florida recently unearthed a fossil that may belong to a mammoth or mastodon. The discovery is a significant one because it predates human life in the state.
"Dragon" fossils that were found in China have rewritten the history of long-necked dinosaurs, as they suggest that sauropods emerged 15 million years earlier than previously thought. Meanwhile, a baby snake fossil trapped in amber, acquired from Myanmar, suggested that snakes moved to forests from coastal regions at an earlier time than believed.