Frozen in Time: A 34 Million-year old Mantis

Amber can preserve living organisms in their three-dimension shapes like no other fossilization method. Often, the result is astonishingly beautiful like this praying mantis which seems totally taken by surprise when a dollop of tree resin fell on it, encasing it for all time. This rare object was discovered in the Dominican Republic and dates anywhere from 23 to 34 million years ago. This date range puts this fossil in an important period a very long time ago when the archaic Eocene transitioned into the comparatively modern ecosystems of the Miocene period which lasted until five million years ago. For perspective, the earliest humans (genus Homo) roamed the earth only about 2.8 million years ago and the earliest remains of modern humans (Homo Sapiens) from Africa) date back to a mere 300,000 years ago.

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