Approximately 41 million years ago, two flies found themselves quite literally in a sticky situation. The two mating insects got trapped in amber on the southern end of the Gondwana supercontinent, and no one knew a thing about it… until a team of scientists found them.
Accidentally Frozen in Intimacy
The two long-legged Dolichopodidae flies found themselves trapped in the gooey sap of a tree, and sadly there was no way for them to escape. The resin gradually turned to amber, forever preserving the love affair of these two insects. Some scientists call amber the Holy Grail in the field because of how beautifully it preserves ancient creatures in what seems like timeless animation as if they had just died.
The Flies Were a Peculiar Find
It wasn’t until 2011 that this interesting find was discovered by paleontologists working in the Otway Basin in southern Australia. While it’s not unusual for scientists to find small ancient insects in fossilized resin, it is rare to find such specimens in the Southern Hemisphere, especially when they are frozen while in the act of mating. Previously, paleontologists have found creators in the process of feeding, as well as parasites in action, but not two mating flies. This is what makes the recent find truly astonishing.
Unusual Discovery in the Southern Hemisphere
To date, the majority of amber records have been retrieved in the Northern Hemisphere, so finding one in the southern parts of Australia prompted a wider search of the area. Jeffrey Stilwell and his team, who found the mating flies, began searching for sites across New Zealand and Australia. They discovered an astonishing abundance of ancient amber from the supercontinents of Southern Pangaea and Southern Gondwana.
All in all, the team discovered more than 5,800 amber pieces. Some of them came from Anglesea, Victoria (42 million years ago), and the rest were taken from western Tasmania, Macquarie Harbour, and were dated to around 54 million years ago.