Scientists using a pioneering new technique have revealed images of two 305-million year old insects: one cockroach, and one a brand new species and genus which does not exist today.
Dr Russell Garwood, and Professor Philip Withers, from Manchester University, have used a high resolution form of CT scanning (similar to that used in hospitals) to reconstruct the insects from fossils - essentially holes in a rock. This rock was then placed in a scanner where over 3,000 X-rays from a variety of angles were taken, creating 2,000 2D cross sections - which were then combined to create a 3D digital reconstruction. Simple.
The new species (referred to as a Spiney Lateral) has a large number of sharp spines, which it is believed were used as a form of defence against predators, due to the fact that it couldn't fly. The cockroach relative is a roach nymph - very similar to their modern day equivalents, but possibly predating the evolutionary split between them and their sister group, the mantises.
The scientists say that this is 'very much a first step', and they hope to make more discoveries soon. Please, please can they find a new dinosaur in there somewhere. Even just a small one. Please.
More info can be found at the Manchester University website
Images: PLoS One