Unicorn flies discovered in amber

Image: G. Poinar/Oregon State University

A hundred million years ago, flies with horns on the top of their heads were buzzing around modern-day Myanmar (formerly Burma).

George Poinar, a zoologist at Oregon State University, US, discovered a single fossil specimen of the extinct species preserved in amber.

The insect, nicknamed the unicorn fly, was equipped with three eyes on top of its horn, which it probably used to spot predators from all directions as it ate pollen from small flowers. The horned fly does not belong to any existing species, or even to a known genus or family, so a new family has been created for it. The fly’s scientific name, Cascoplecia insolitis, is from the Latin words for “old” and “unusual.”

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