Fossil beetles show earliest signs of active parenting

Fossil carrion beetle

Carrion beetle fossils from the Cretaceous period may provide the oldest evidence of parental care discovered to date.

Di-Ying Huang

Ancient beetles that thrived off of dead and decaying flesh may have been among the first creatures to actively care for their young. Fossils of carrion beetles from China and Myanmar suggest the insects defended food for their larvae and had body parts to make noise to send signals to their young 125 million years ago. The finding, which appears September 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, represents the earliest evidence of parental care, scientists say.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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