New species found in amber

Friday 29th April 2016

A new species of mayfly has been discovered in Mexican amber. Maccaffertium annae was found in early Miocene Mexican amber. This discovery is the first species of mayfly (Ephemeroptera), the first record of the family Heptageniidae to be found in this amber, and also the first fossil record of the genus Maccaffertium. Incredibly both male and female mayflies were found in the same piece of amber.

The discovery is described in detail in the scientific journal Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, Volumen 68, núm. 1, 2016, p. 1-5 published to coincide with the 7th International Conference on Fossil Insects, Arthropods and Amber (27- 29 April) hosted for the first time in the UK at the National Museum of Scotland.

The mayfly was described by Craig Macadam, Conservation Director of Buglife and Andrew Ross from the National Museum of Scotland.

Craig Macadam commented. “Adult mayflies only live for a few days, just to mate and lay eggs so the chances of finding them in amber are extremely remote and even more remarkable to find a male and female in one piece of amber. Whether it was a case of coitus interuptus we will never know.”

Mexican amber from the state of Chiapas is about 15 to 20 million years old and is one of the most important amber resources from Central America, yet it has been relatively poorly studied.  The amber and the sediments in which it is found demonstrate that the area was once a lowland tropical forest, near the coast in a mangrove environment.