The fossilized remains of a rare flower and a parasitic wasp with more than 30 million years old were found in the La Búcara amber mine of the Cordillera Septentrionalnear Santiago and Puerto Plata, by an American paleontologist, published in the specialized journal Historial Biology.
George Poinar Jr., a paleontologist in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University, was the one who found the Cenozoic amber stone.
Through the article, the professor announced that the rare flower found in the country is a plant that belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae of the genre plukenetia minima, which has more than 300 genera. Currently most are found in Africa, Madagascar and Asia.
“In tropical America there are about 105 genera with 1,800 species, of which 65 are endemic” Poinar described.
These plant species are lianas or vines that are found in moist tropical forests at altitudes up to about 1000 m. Found in America in lowlands of the Amazon basins of Ecuador, northern Peru and Brazil.
The paper describes the fossil as containing a complete senescent pistillate (functionally unisexual) flower, well preserved with mature fruits, also a parasitic wasp with dark brown and black body, light brown antennae, eyes and legs.
“The assignment of the pistillate flower to the genus Plukenetia is based on the presence of a pedicel, dehiscent capsules with four lobes, four persistent sepals in the fruit, without petals, and connate stylodes in a single column with entire stigmatic points”said the paleontologist.
According to Poinar, the parasitic wasp female may have fed on pollen from adjacent male flowers of plukenetia minimal that were not preserved in amber.
Inside the flower, a gall midge larva was found, defined in the article as a species of small fly that attacks all stages of flowering plants.
According to Boinar, the wasp could have been trapped, attracted by the mosquito, seeking to deposit an egg that, after hatching, would have parasitized the larva of the gall midge.
“The presence of these two insects associated with plukenetia minimum sp. nov. reveals information about the microhabitat. It would seem that both insects survived in the ecological niche created by the vegetation and the inflorescences of plukenetia minima sp. Nov.” Poinar concluded.
At present this family of plants is not found in the Greater Antilles.
a similar case
In 2007, an ancient bee, without poison, carrying an orchid, was found in an amber stone in one of the mines in the Dominican Republic.
According to research, it is estimated that the bee and the orchid were more than 10 million years old. As reported, it was the first time an orchid fossil was found.
Orchids are one of the most diverse plants in the world with more than 20,000 species, before 2007 a fossilized orchid had not been found.
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