Professor George Poinar, Jr. from Oregon State University is maybe best known for being the first to suggest Amber is capable of preserving DNA. His interest in Amber has lead to several discoveries of insects and creatures trapped in Amber. Professor Poinar’s continued studies with creatures trapped in Amber has now revealed an entire new Order in the Insecta class.
This discovery isn’t quite the same as a new bug or animal, it is much greater and broader than that. What has been discovered is an Order, which is a rank within the classification of species and animals known as their Nomenclature. To put it in perspective, the basic rankings within Nomenclature goes from broad to narrow as: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Tribe, Genus, and Species. There are six Kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, Archaea/Archaeabacteria, and Bacteria/Eubacteria. From there it breaks down more and more with each classification, but what we’re focusing on is the Order.
An example of an Order would be Carnivora, which dogs, cats, and bears fall under. In the Insecta Class, there were were only 31 known Orders until now, bringing it up to 32. Somem of the Insecta classes are Coleoptera (beetles) and Diptera (gnats, mosquitoes, flies), but the newly discovered one is called Aethiocarenodea.
The specific bug that was discovered has been dubbed Aethiocarenus burmanicus, and is only 0.2 inches long with a flat body. Other notable distinctions are the insect’s triangle shaped head with large eyes, and a neck that was capable of giving the insect a 180-degree look around it’s surroundings. Looking at it’s head and referencing it as a triangle, two adjacent corners are where the insect’s eyes are, while the final corner is where a vertex connects the head to the neck. This vertex is what allows the insect to turn it’s head and see a 180-degree scope. It is guessed that the insect is an omnivore, and was found to have unique glands on it’s neck believed to secret chemicals to repel predators.
“I had never really seen anything like it. It appears to be unique in the insect world, and after considerable discussion we decided it had to take its place in a new order.” – Professor George Poinar, Jr.
At this time, it is currently believed that this new Order is extinct, since we have never discovered any living creature like it before. There is only one other insect added to it, which was also found encased in Amber. To this day there are still new discoveries of insects being made regularly, such as the donaldtrumpi named after Donald Trump for his recent inauguration as America’s 45th President. While it’s extremely unlikely there will be any new living additions, it’s not impossible that there are more to be found within the new Aethiocarenodea Order.