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Fortunately, unlike “murder hornets” and gypsy moths, the insect recently found in Utah isn’t a threat to anyone anymore. Paleontologists in the state discovered a 151-million-year-old fossil of a giant bug called Morrisonnepa Jurassica, the Utah Department of Natural Resources wrote in a blog post.
Researchers found the fossil in the geologically rich Morrison Formation in southeastern Utah, the DNR’s blog post said.
“The insect fossil consists of most of the abdomen, two elements of the forewing, and possibly the head and is only the second insect body fossil ever discovered from the Morrison Formation,’ the DNR wrote.
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According to the Utah DNR, the insect was first discovered in 2017 and appears to be related to “giant water bugs,” which are known for their extremely painful bites.
“The new fossil insect appears to be a relatively large predator whose modern relatives are known to attack and eat not just other invertebrates like snails and crustaceans but also vertebrate prey such as fish, amphibians, and snakes,” the department wrote in its post.
The fossil was found in the same Rocky Mountain region that has produced dinosaurs like apatosaurus, allosaurus and stegosaurus, according to the Utah DNR. The area has also “yielded an abundance of plant fossils.”
“We always dreamed of finding actual insect fossils in the Morrison, but until the first report in 2011 there had been nothing,” Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum paleontologist John Foster told the department.
“That report gave us hope, but still, when this specimen appeared under a microscope, mixed in with a bulk batch of unidentified plant fossil material, it was shocking to realize that we were looking at an insect abdomen and wing – and big ones.”
The fossil is in the paleontology collections at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Morrisonnepa Jurassica: 151-million-year-old bug fossil found in Utah