A very unique type of weevil (a tiny beetle with an elongated snout) dating back 100 million years has been found preserved in Burmese amber. In fact, it is so rare that has never been seen before in any living or fossilized weevil. The amber came from the Noije Bum 2001 Summit Site mine in Myanmar’s Hukawng Valley.
Research was conducted on the specimen by Oregon State University who nicknamed it a “mammoth weevil” because it had a “monstrous trunk” (this portion of its face is actually called a beak or rostrum). Experts believe that it used its large trunk to fight against other males to win over the females.
Its scientific name is Rhamphophorus legalovii – “Rhamphophorus” meaning “curving break” and “to bear” in Greek; while “legalovii” is in reference to a Russian weevil specialist named Andrei A. Legalov. It is an entirely new tribe, genus, and species of weevil.
The Rhamphophorus legalovii species, which belonged to the sub-family Cimberidinae, had an 11-segment straight antenna (they are called primitive weevils). The 5.5-millimeter-long insect was believed to have lived on the ground. Additionally, it had an extended middle foot segment that could have possibly helped it to hold onto plants or in battles for females. (A picture of the Rhamphophorus legalovii can be seen here.)
The study was published in Cretaceous Research where it can be read in full.
In other ancient species news, a small reptile that lived approximately 310 million years ago has been found in Mazon Creek, Illinois and was named after a giant snake in Viking mythology that battled Thor.
This type of microsaur (which belonged to a group called Recumbirostra) is named Joermungandr bolti and measured 1.9 inches in length, had a blunt skull; a long, slender, cylindrical, smooth body; short, stubby limbs; and a tapered tailbone that indicated it had a short round tail.
The remains were so well preserved that its body still had impressions of oval ridged scales. Its strong skull had several fused bones which probably helped it to survive the pressure from digging underground as it was likely a “headfirst burrower”.
Based on the remains, it is thought that the reptile would have slithered along like a snake and dug tunnels beneath the ground. (A picture of what the Joermungandr bolti would have looked like can be seen here.)
The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.