A pair of thumb-sized beetles spotted perfectly preserved in a piece of English bogwood may look as though they died just recently, but in fact they are as old as Egypt's pyramids, new research concluded.
Their radiocarbon dating showed that the two oak Capricorn beetles, named for their long curved antennae, which bear a striking resemblance to the horns of the alpine ibex (Capra ibex), date to around 3,800 years ago:
"These beetles are older than the Tudors, older than the Roman occupation of Britain, even older than the Roman Empire", Max Barclay, from the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, pointed out in a statement, saying the insects "were alive and chewing the inside of the piece of wood when the pharaohs were building the pyramids in Egypt", which turns out to be something "tremendously exciting".
Strictly speaking, the bog beetles have been exhibited by the NHM since the late 1970s, after a farmer discovered the dead species on his farm in East Anglia, well-known for its swamps. According to an earlier Live Science report, these waterlogged bogs that dominate Englands eastern coast, have low-oxygen, highly-acidic conditions known for preserving organic matter, including dead bodies.
"As far as I know, the story is this: A farmer in eastern England was cutting up wood he'd found while doing some deep ploughing and discovered these insects inside; dead, of course", Barclay told the BBC. "This was a huge piece of waterlogged oak, and he sent us a sample".
According to Barclay, cooling temperatures associated with climate change have gradually made the species go extinct in England, as it normally thrives in warmer conditions. So, global warming may mean a return of the beetle, which can fly, albeit not so well, to Britain's insect world, when conditions again become favourable.