Extreme preservation gives fly's eye view

Ancient fly in amber sports sophisticated photoreceptor arrangement

8:33pm, December 16, 2008

The eyes had it, even 45 million years ago.

Two flies stuck in Baltic amber still have enough soft tissue to confirm predictions that their kind had already evolved a fancy, open array of photoreceptors, according to a paper published online December 16 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Preserved, ancient eyes have turned up before, but “usually you don’t get the internal parts,” says Andrew Parker of the Natural History Museum in London. The bulging red eyes on these flies have what Parker says could be the oldest retinas yet examined.

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