November 20, 2011 by zssedu
Scientists from Manchester University have reconstructed, in three dimensions, the appearance of a tiny mite which lived 50 million years ago and was immersed in Baltic amber.
The mite measured 170 micrometers and was founded in the body of a spider absorbed in a lump of amber and it is impossible to see it without a microscope. It is the smallest fossil of an arthropod which has ever been founded.
Scientists used the CAT (computer-assisted tomography) method and by basing their research on photographs of individual layers of fossil they obtained a 3D reconstruction of the specimen. Thanks to an analysis of details which were covered by the spider’s body scientists could precisely identify the mite that is the oldest known member of Histiostomatidae.
The method used by specialists from Manchester could help to accurately examine the other representatives of wildlife immersed in primeval-forests resin. The amber specimen was saved in perfect state. Unfortunately lumps of amber containing more than one arthropod occur rarely. The discovery of the mite which was a “fare-dodger” on the spider was an exceptional case.
Edit: MU (not the football team) have published a 3D reconstruction of the mite in question: