Giant predatory ancient insects pioneered mobile comms 310,000,000 years ago

Late Carboniferous period critters used wings to reflect light and make sound

Scientists have discovered fossilised insect wings which suggest the flying creatures they belong to may have been communicating 310 million years ago – 50 million years before the first known insect comms.

Discovered in Liévin, France, the fossils offer the earliest known evidence of wing-based communication in insects and suggest bugs may have been using their wings to broadcast information since the Late Carboniferous period, around 310 million years ago.

André Nel, professor at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris, and his team found the fossil belonging to a previously unidentified species of giant predatory grasshopper-like insects called Titanoptera – the largest of which had wingspans of more than 33cm. The team called the new find Theiatitan Azari, in tribute to Theia, the Greek Titan goddess of light.

Analysis of the shape and structure of the long-dead creature's wing compared to modern insects suggests that these panels may have allowed T. azari to communicate by reflecting light or producing crackling noises.

"Whether these communication systems were used to attract sexual partners and/or escape predators remain to be demonstrated," the paper, published in Nature Communications Biology, said.

While both hypotheses are possible, "predators like the Titanoptera, communicating to gain insight on female receptivity and avoid being considered as a potential prey could even have been vital."

Whatever the explanation, the authors said the discovery shows that sound and/or light communication is "a very old phenomenon," around 50 million years older than previous evidence suggested.

"These types of communication with the wings have evolved numerous times," the paper said. "Those multiple origins suggest that wing-based communication has been an important and innovative factor in the establishment of the deep past biodiversity." ®

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022