gladiators - EBSCOhost 1 of 5

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
EBSCOhost .. 1 of 5 7/31/2006 2:56 PM Title: Gladiators: A New Order of Insect , By: Adis, Joachim, Zompro, Oliver, Moombolah-Goagoses, Esther, Marais, Eugene, Scientific American, 00368733, Nov2002, Vol. 287, Issue 5 Database: Academic Search Premier Print E-mail Save Formats: Citation HTML Full Text Choose Language Translate Gladiators: A New Order of Insect A mystery in amber is solved on a desert mountain with a discovery that has stunned entemologists Imagine being the very first person ever to see a butterfly, a beetle or a wasp. Imagine the sense of wonder at a world so wide that it contains not just undiscovered species, genera or families but entire orders of life yet to be named. Carl Linnaeus must have had such a feeling 250 years ago as he was sorting recently discovered plants and animals into the taxonomy he had invented. So probably did E. M. Walker, who in 1914 was the first to describe rock crawlers (Grylloblattodea), bringing the number of orders in the insect class to 30. Most entomologists thought that was the final total: although there may be millions of insect species still to identify (about 1.2 million have been named so far), for nearly a century we have assumed that every newfound species will fall into just those 30 basic categories. To biologists, the natural world no longer seemed as wide and as wild as it once did. But in June 2001 one of us (Zompro) received bits of amber that would change the way we look at the insect world, giving us a taste of the old joy of discovery--and renewing our awe at the variety of life. Frozen in Time THE CHUNKS OF AMBER, from a collection at the University of Hamburg in Germany, were dug up in the Baltic. As the tree sap solidified some 45 million years ago, it had captured several insect larvae that looked utterly different from any Zompro had seen before. A month later Zompro, who was then working on his doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Limnology in Pl6n, was visiting the Natural History Museum in London when curator Judith A. Marshall showed him a desiccated bug found in Tanzania in 1950. It was clearly the carcass of an adult male, but no one had been able to identify what manner of insect it once was. Zompro snapped a few pictures and returned to Germany. A few days later another piece of amber arrived in the mail. This one, from a private collection, entombed a fossilized adult male of some kind. As Zompro examined it under the microscope, he was struck by how much it resembled the exoskeleton he had just seen in London. Now Zompro knew he was onto something. He showed the new amber fossil to his thesis adviser (Adis), who suggested that he sift through the collections of several European museums for other unidentified bugs of this sort. Hunting in one museum after another, Zompro turned up no matching specimens. But at the Berlin Natural History Museum, he at last struck gold: a little alcohol-filled bottle containing the embalmed body of an adult female insect that looked conspicuously like the mysterious bug in amber.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 07/23/2011 for the course ENY 3005 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Florida.

Page1 / 5

gladiators - EBSCOhost 1 of 5

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online