It’s an extraordinary find: hundreds of tiny bees 3,000 years old were found in their cocoons, completely mummified. The vagaries of the weather may have been the reason for this massacre.

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In 2019, a team of researchers made a surprising discovery while prospecting off the southwest coast of Portugal. as they analyze sediments to better understand the evolution ecosystemsecosystems Over time, scientists have found hundreds of tiny fossilized cocoons in this area.

Rare discovery of 3,000-year-old mummified bees

Curious, researchers bring them back to the lab to analyze their contents. And there, surprise! passed to x-rayx-rayCocoons reveal the presence of young mummified bees of the genus Eucera,

These tiny bees with long antennae have the distinction of growing underground in cocoons made by females. However, this is an extremely rare find as an exoskeleton insectsinsects are made of chitinchitin, a substance that usually decomposes very quickly after the death of the animal. In this specific case, the bees would have been protected by their cocoons, which would have acted like mummification strips!

Deadly cold wave for young bees

What’s surprising is that these young bees Eucera All must have died at the same time, about 3,000 years ago, shortly before they laid their eggs. An actual massacre whose origins remain uncertain. The discovery is presented in an article published in the journal papers in paleontology, the researchers suggest several possibilities. But it seems most likely that a sudden cold snap, for example an event of frost, got the better of young bees shortly before they hatched from their eggs.

A dramatic episode for this colony, but fortunately it did not threaten the entire genre. today we find more than 25 speciesspecies D’Eucera and Portugal.


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