Parasitic Wasps Found Inside 30 Million-Year-Old Flies | SciShow News

[ INTRO ] Many wasps are brutal assassins, taking over the bodies of unsuspecting insects
and killing them from the inside out. And last week, in the journal Nature Communications, German researchers reported the first clear
evidence that they’ve been doing this for over 30 million years. There are hundreds of thousands of parasitic
wasp species, and all have a rather macabre start to life. While adults look and act like wasps, their
young are terrifying parasites. Female wasps lay their eggs on or in a suitable
host. The larvae that hatch slowly consume that
host from the inside as they develop. Then, they either eat their way out, or just pupate right there in the hollowed-out
shell that remains. And it’s that whole living-inside-another’s-body
thing that makes fossils of these wasps so hard to find. Before this study, paleontologists only had a few adult wasps
and some larvae trapped in amber, which isn’t much to go on if you want to
deduce what parasitic wasps were like in the past. But recent advances in scanning technologies
have finally made it possible to peer inside a fossil without destroying
it. So to look for ancient parasitic wasps, the researchers examined 1,510 mineralized
fly pupae which were excavated from a fossil bed in
France. According to previous studies on fossils from
the same area, these pupae are thought to be about 30 to
40 million years old. And from the outside, it was impossible to
tell if any contained parasites. So the team used a new kind of x-ray scanning
technology to construct high-resolution 3-dimensional
images of the fossils. And they discovered that 55 of them were parasitized
by wasps. Many of the wasps were in the final stages
of pupation, and 20 appeared to have recently hatched. Some were so well-preserved that the researchers
could see hairs on the wasps’ backs or determine if their wings were folded or
outstretched. And based on physical features, these now-extinct
wasps could be split into 4 new species, three of which looked so distinctive they
were put into new genera. One of those new genera was named Xenomorphia —a nod to the chest-bursters from Ridley
Scott’s “Alien” franchise. These are the most intricate parasitic wasp
fossils to date and the first definitive ones of them inside
their hosts, so they’re already providing scientists
with novel insights into ancient wasp ecology and evolution. And the researchers hope their success will
inspire similar studies, as there are bound to be a lot more ancient
parasites hiding inside otherwise unremarkable fossils. Last week, a study in the journal Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences found a hormone that seems to compel naked
mole-rats to care for other mole-rats’ babies. But it was how this hormone makes its way
into them that stood out: they get it by eating the mother mole-rat’s
poop. Naked mole-rat colonies are eusocial. This means that a single female—the queen— reproduces while the other colony members
or subordinates take care of her pups. But they’re not always eager babysitters. Researchers from Azabu University in Japan
found that subordinates can sometimes be slow to respond to the sounds made by pups. They’re most responsive during the queen’s
postpartum period— the time just after she gives birth. And blood tests revealed that this coincides
with an increase in estradiol— a kind of estrogen hormone that’s been linked
to parenting behaviors in other mammals. The only weird thing is that subordinates
aren’t sexually mature, and they can’t make sex hormones like estradiol
on their own. So it wasn’t clear where the estradiol was
coming from. There was one possible source. During that postpartum period, subordinates
consume a lot of their queen’s feces. That isn’t as weird as it might sound— lots of animals do it to get a boost of nutrition
from partially-digested material. But feces can also contain hormones, so the
researchers wondered if the poop-eating and the blood estradiol levels were connected. They discovered that the feces of pregnant
mole-rat queens do contain a lot of estradiol. But to really test the connection, they added
the hormone to feces from nonpregnant queens, and fed those feces to female subordinates
for nine days. Sure enough, their blood estradiol levels
rose. And they were more responsive to the cries
of pups than subordinates that ate unaltered feces. So the researchers concluded mole-rats’
parenting behaviors are directly induced by the hormonal supplement they receive through
eating their queen’s poop. It’s not all that surprising that mole-rat
queens are able to steer their subordinates’ behavior. Queens from other eusocial species like bees
also have ways to keep their colony members in line. But that usually means excreting pheromones
which travel through the air. It’s likely naked mole-rats can’t rely
on pheromones because the part of their olfactory system
that detects them is poorly developed. So, apparently, they influence others using
their poop instead. The next step is to understand exactly how
the hormone works, so the researchers are planning to examine
the brains of the mole-rats to understand what neural changes underlie this seemingly
gross yet advantageous social behavior. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
News! And a special thanks to our President of Space,
SR Foxley! Thanks, SR, for your continued support! If you want to keep up with our news episodes
every Friday, just click that little subscribe button and,
if you’re feeling extra fancy, hit the notification bell too. [ OUTRO]

99 Replies to “Parasitic Wasps Found Inside 30 Million-Year-Old Flies | SciShow News”

  1. I wondered why estradiol isn’t broken down in the mole rats stomach, also I realised that thyroxine is taken orally by people with hypothyroidism. i know insulin has to be injected to work medicinally, but are all hormones able to be absorbed in the digestive tract ?

  2. A few years ago I noticed wasps hovering around some brassica seedlings, which I thought was odd.
    Then one day I saw one of the wasps fly away carrying a caterpillar.
    I had a lot more respect for wasps after that. Screw you, cabbage whites!

    Lately the stray cats I feed have been harassed by wasps on their cat food.
    I got some photos of a wasp cutting up a chunk of cat food and flying away with a piece.

  3. I know this is off topic, but I had this thought earlier. If aliens are real (and for the record I 100% believe they are) and they evolved to be complex, would certain chemicals like dopamine have the same effect on them? All the chemical does is bind to a cell receptor, then tell the cell gives out a certain signal in response, right, or do I have this totally wrong? So, could dopamine be the really aggressive chemical in aliens instead of the reward causing one?
    I might be completely wrong here but I though it was an interesting thought, and I am interested in what others think, second opinions never hurt.

    If anyone reading this who actually knows about this has been rolling their eyes the entire time because I'm totally of course, then I'm sorry.

  4. Did you have to say it was a "tasty" episode? My gross out level was under control until I heard that. Yuck. The modified poop emoji was already pushing it.

  5. Since the xenomorph is conceptually based on parasitic wasps, isn't a bit TOO ironic to name a species of parasitic wasp after it?

  6. You know how looks exactly like a naked mole rat? Dinesh D'Souza. Not even trying to be political, he seriously looks exactly like one!

  7. Why no news about jebi typhoon and the subsequent earthquakes 🙁
    Scishow covered the volcanic eruptions in hawai pretty quickly. 🙁

  8. Something no one seems to be discussing: how the heck did this many maggots get fossilized in the same place? They are kind of squishy for easy fossilization

  9. In order to get a job on this channel, do you have to borrow Hank's specs and be able to imitate his voice and his movements perfectly, or what? 😀

  10. About the naked mole rat poop thing: Male California Mice will provide care for mouse pups when in the presence of a female’s poop! Amazing how hormones in poop change rodent behavior.

  11. Lol. I was tired, just got off work, and read the title of this video from this notification pull down on my phone. I read "plastic wrap" found inside 30 million year old fly

  12. Ever since the dawn of Scishow, SR Foxley has been the unseen hand that guides this channel. SR Foxley is believed to be around 10,000 years old.

  13. SciShow, you should really work on adding graphical material to your shows, as it is too dry now. Other sources did get permission somehow.

  14. Why don’t you make a video on the alternative theories about the Universe on YouTube this would be interesting and good for the YouTube community!!!

  15. Pretty sure I crapped one of these out the other day. I need more tp for my bung hole!!!!!! I am the great cornholio!!!!

  16. Speaking of mole-rats : The permanent government is not going anywhere. Must be completely gutted. Move the new simple constitutional guidance offices to Denver or some place in the middle of the country, should be off the coasts. The states individually guide their operations with 5 elected people. What is going on now is unacceptable.

  17. Only because this is an educational channel…
    It’s “one thousand, five hundred, ten”.
    Not “one thousand, five hundred AND ten”.
    No “and” because they are all the same.

  18. I believe it is the reverse with naked mole rats not using pheromones:
    It’s Not that they use hormones because their olfactory system is underdeveloped.
    Their olfactory system is poorly developed Because they use hormones.

  19. Fortitude – the safest place on earth… well, maybe not

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