Fossils of 'Bizarre' Big-Headed Fly Discovered (Photo)

Big-Headed Fly Fossil
New species of fossil big-headed fly named Metanephrocerus belgardeae, found by Azure Rain Belgarde of Collville, Wash. (Image credit: Bruce Archibald/Simon Fraser University)

Scientists have found fossils of three species of big-headed fly that lived about 50 million years ago during the Eocene epoch. Big-headed flies, which belong to the family Pipunculidae, have very large eyes that nearly cover their entire heads.

Researchers Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes from Simon Fraser University and Christian Kehlmaier from Germany's Senkenberg Natural History Collections found the fossilized specimens. 

"Big-headed flies are a group of bizarre insects whose round heads are almost entirely covered by their bulging compound eyes, which they use to hunt for mainly leafhoppers and planthoppers, renowned common garden insect pests," Archibald said in a statement.

One fossil was well-preserved enough to name it a new species. It was named Metanephrocerus belgardeae in honor of its finder, Azure Rain Belgarde, a student at the Paschal Sherman Indian School.

The research was published in The Canadian Entomologist.

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site