Wang and his team explained that "debris-carrying, a behavior of actively harvesting and carrying exogenous materials, is among the most fascinating and complex behaviors" because it requires "an ability to recognize, collect and carry materials," along with other skills and evolved adaptations.
The scientists demonstrated their own cleverness by performing detective work that sheds light on what might have happened just before the insects died.
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Most of the Burmese amber lacewing larvae were preserved with hair-like tiny growths produced by particular ferns known as gleicheniacean ferns. Two green lacewing larvae were preserved carrying these plant objects, suggesting that the larvae were closely associated with the ferns' habitats.
Since gleicheniacean ferns tend to colonize areas right after fires, the researchers deduced that the amber-associated trees released their resin during or just after fires.
"This supports a relationship between fire events and the high production of plant resins," according to Wang and his team.
The fiery look of amber may then tell us something about how it was produced, such as what likely happened when droplets of tree resin first froze the 100-million-year-old camouflaged insects in their tracks.
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