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29 million-year-old grasshopper nest full of eggs could be a one-of-a-kind fossil, study says

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Researchers discovered a 29-million-year-old insect egg case in Oregon, revealing a grasshopper’s reproductive process.

This rare find offers insights into ancient ecosystems and insect life stages.

The fossil’s exceptional preservation in an unusual habitat provides valuable data on insect evolution and ecology. (Trending: 2024 Miss America Winner Crowned)

The discovery sheds light on the little-known field of ootaxonomy, which focuses on immature insect stages.

The study’s author, evolutionary ecologist Jaemin Lee, said, “This work is exciting because such exceptional preservation provides unique insights to one of the least understood life stages of insects, particularly in the geologic past.”

Paleobiologist Dr. Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente, said, “They are the first to be recognized as belonging to orthopterans — grasshoppers and their kin — in the fossil record, which is noteworthy.”

“The work also represents an important step towards formalizing the description of immature stages of insects, more particularly those of eggs,” he continued.

He added that ootaxonomy, “can provide paramount data on the evolution, behavior and ecology of insects in deep time, but which tend to be neglected in paleontological studies.”

Christopher Schierup, a collection manager for the National Parks Service, said, “It did not require any tool work to get it out of the ground.”

Schierup wrapped the fossil he found in toilet paper, “and carefully returned to the visitor center where our lab is located.”

“Belowground egg pods are currently produced by only two groups of insects,” explained Lee.

The study’s unique findings and pristine preservation highlight the significance of the national park’s fossil beds.

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