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article imageNew wasp species names in honor of David Bowie

By Tim Sandle     Jun 23, 2017 in Science
Beijing - The 'star dust' wasp is a new extinct species, and it has named after David Bowie's alter ego in honor of the British singer's contribution to popular culture.
The extinct wasp was found during an examination of fossil insects being carried out at China's Capitol Normal University. Spotting something strange a student called Longfeng Li pulled out some unusual specimens. Later, on a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the U.S., Li presented the wasp specimens to researchers. It was soon established that the well-preserved specimens were 100 million years old. It was also found that both were species hitherto new to science. What was of primary academic interest was that one of the specimens belonged to a genus (Archaeoteleia) which includes modern wasps.
The wasp specimens were preserved in Burmese amber. Amber is fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber sometimes contains animals or plant matter that became caught in the resin as it was secreted.
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Key differences between the ancient wasps compared with today's wasps are that the modern wasp species shows visibly longer antennal segments and has a different number of teeth on the mandible. The most interesting fossil wasp of the tow - the one with living relatives - has been named Archaeoteleia astropulvis. The species name - "astropulvis" - translates from Latin into 'star dust'. The scientists selected this name purposefully, to both refer to both "the ancient source of the atoms that form our planet and its inhabitants" (as they state in a research note) as well as to commemorate the late David Bowie's alter ego -- Ziggy Stardust.
The discovery and naming has been published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research. The research paper is headed "Archaeoteleia Masner in the Cretaceous and a new species of Proteroscelio Brues (Hymenoptera, Platygastroidea)."
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