Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ancient 'unicorn' fly had 3 eyes on its horn

Scientists have found new species of prehistoric insect preserved in amber, a tiny "unicorn" fly with an unusual set of eyes. So cool.
CBC reports:
The fly, found in a 100-million-year-old chunk of amber from a mine in Myanmar, has a small horn on the top of its head with three simple eyes on top, in addition to two larger compound eyes. "No other insect ever discovered has a horn like that, and there's no animal at all with a horn that has eyes on top," said George Poinar Jr., a zoologist at Oregon State University.

The fly, dubbed Cascoplecia insolitis, represents not only a new species, but an entirely new family of insects, Ponar wrote in the journal Cretaceous Research. Many insects that have compound eyes also have three simple eyes, or ocelli, on top of their heads, thought to help in navigating during flight.