Paleontologists from China, Austria and Canada announced on Monday that they have found the first mid-Cretaceous ostracod preserved in amber, thepaper.cn reported.
The tiny sea creature trapped in fossilized tree resin from roughly 100 million years ago was found in Hukawng Valley, a famous site for mining amber in Myanmar's Kachin state.
Xing Lida, associate professor at China University of Geosciences and one of the leading scientists of the study, pointed out that ostracods are rarely encountered in amber, since they are typically aquatic microcrustaceans. The reports of ostracods from amber are scarce to date and all are from the Cenozoic Era, our current geologic period which started 66 million years ago, he said.
However, the new specimen is the first ostracod trapped in mid-Cretaceous amber. What makes the ostracod more unique is that it is relatively gigantic, 12.9 mm in length, while common ones are usually small, about 0.5 to 2mm.
According to Xing, the discovery of the new ostracod specimen shows that local resin was produced in the marginal marine environment and then encapsulated the marine ostracod. The finding is especially crucial in exploring the paleoenvironment of the amber forest of Myanmar and the evolution of ostracods.
The study was published in the academic journal Scientific Reports.