38 Million-Year-Old Termites Found in Amber Shed Light on Ancient Mating Behavior

38 Million-Year-Old Termites Found in Amber Shed Light on Ancient Mating Behavior

An exciting new study has shed light on the fascinating behavior of ancient termites, frozen in time within amber for 38 million years. Led by Auburn University Assistant Professor Nobuaki Mizumoto, an international team delved into the discovery of two termites preserved in amber in what seems to be a mating position.

The researchers uncovered evidence suggesting that these termites engaged in a behavior known as tandem running, where mating insects maintain physical contact while scouting for a nest location. The amber encasement served as a time capsule, capturing this moment for millions of years.

Although the fossilization process may have altered the termites' original positions, the team conducted experiments using modern termites to simulate the immobilization process. This led them to conclude that the fossilized pair indeed showcased tandem running, providing a rare glimpse into the mating behavior of extinct termites.

Published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal, this research marks the only known occurrence of a pair of Electrotermes affinis termites captured together in amber. The exceptionally rare fossil was discovered in Kaliningrad, Russia, and is now housed at the National Museum in Prague, thanks to the efforts of co-author Aleš Buček.

The study not only highlights the incredible preservation capabilities of amber but also showcases the collaborative efforts of researchers like Mizumoto, who worked extensively on this project alongside experts from various institutions.