Photos: Ancient Assassin Flies Trapped in Amber

Ancient Assassin Fly

(Image credit: David Grimaldi)

A scientist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History discovered and named a new 100-million-year-old species of assassin fly, Burmapogon bruckschi, after studying the first two specimens ever preserved in Burmese amber.

Face of Ancient Fly

(Image credit: David Grimaldi)

Scientists examined a male and a female specimen using a microscope. They found several distinct features not seen in modern species of assassin flies, including long flattened antennae and a unique V-shaped eye structure.

Fierce Killers

(Image credit: David Grimaldi)

Assassin flies are named for their fierce predation strategy; they ambush and catch their prey in flight, puncture their armor-like skeleton and inject them with digestive fluids before extracting the nutrients within.

Spiny Abs

(Image credit: David Grimaldi)

The female B. bruckschi contained small spines on its abdomen, leading researchers to hypothesize that these insects are most closely related to other assassin fly species that use these spines to dig and deposit their eggs in sandy environments.

Assassin Fly Phylogeny

(Image credit: David Grimaldi)

The newly identified ancient species joins more than 7,500 species of assassin flies that are alive today.

Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.