Professor George Ponnar Jr. of Oregon State University describes a new family, genus and species of pollen-collecting bee found in a piece of amber (middle Cretaceous period) of 99 million million years excavated in a mine in Myanmar.
The bee is an important component in the history of the development and diversification of flowering plants (angiosperms).
The vast majority of bees depend on pollen, nectar, oil, wax, aromas and resins of flowering plants for adult and larval nutrition, sexual attraction and nest building.
Bees develop from apoid wasps, which are carnivorous. However, not much is known about the change of wasps as they did with the changes in the diet.
The newly described primitive bee is so unique that Professor Ponier decided to establish a new genus and family (Discosapidae) for her. Called Discoscopa apicula, the ancient insect is a small, dark, mostly hairless bee, collecting pollen.
It shares features with modern bees with plum hair, a round pronothal lobe and a pair of spurs on the posterior tibia and also has very short antennae sockets and some features of the wing veins, such as the apoid wasp.
“There is something unique in the new family that has not been found in the apoid wasp or in any extinct or extinct lineage of bees, a bifurcated rape,” said Professor Ponnar.
“The fossil record of bees is very vast, but most are from the last 65 million years and look like modern bees.”
“Similar fossils in this study can inform us about the changes of some wasps, as they became palnivores, pollen eaters.”
Pollen in Burmese amber in the femur of the hind leg of Apicula Discospa captures the pollen with surrounding pollen particles. The insert shows branches in the hair.
The unique female specimen of Apicula Discosapa is located on the edge of a small piece of amber.
Specimens from a mine first excavated in 2001 include beetle parasites in the Hukwang Valley southwest of Mingkhwan in the Kachin state of Myanmar.
Pollen particles in its legs suggest that the bee had recently visited one or more flowers.
“Additional evidence that the fossil bee had visited the flowers contains 21 beetle tringulins (larvae) on a single piece of amber that feeds on the bee’s larvae and their provisions, a food for the honeycomb to feed on of the food left by the female. We stopped the trip, ”said Professor Ponar.
“It is certainly possible that a large number of Tringulin bees accidentally flew into resin.”