Researchers in Peru said recently that they have discovered the remains of ancient insects and sunflower seeds trapped inside amber dating from the Miocene epoch, some 23 million years ago.
The rare find was made in the remote mountainous jungle region near Peru's northern border with Ecuador, paleontologist Klaus Honninger told AFP.
“These new discoveries are very important, because the insects and sunflower seeds confirm the type of climate that existed during the Miocene period,” Honninger said in a telephone interview.
The paleontologists discovered “hundreds of pieces of amber up to 12 centimetres (five inches) large containing several types of insects,” Honninger said. The insects trapped in the amber — fossilized tree resin — are extremely well preserved and include ancient beetles, barklice, flies and spiders.
Honninger, director of the Chiclayo-based Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum, said that the experts discovered “an unknown species of arachnid” with a head like a dog and legs four times longer than the body.
The discovery was made in April in the Santiago River area of northern Peru.
Extreme climate change from the Miocene epoch (twenty-three million years to five million years ago) was likely the reason the insects became extinct, Honninger said.