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Large predatory insect fossil discovered in Utah

Posted at 4:29 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 18:34:34-04

VERNAL, Utah — A group of paleontologists from Utah and Argentina has discovered a 151-million-year-old insect fossil in southeastern Utah.

"Morrisonnepa jurassica" was uncovered from the Morrison Formation, which has produced other famous fossils such as the Apatosaurus, Allosaurus, and Stegosaurus.

The large predatory insect measures around two inches and was a member of the hemipteran insect group Nepomorpha (“true water bugs”) and appears to be related to the modern family Belostomatidae, the latter also known as “giant water bugs”.

The insect’s modern relatives were known to eat invertebrates like snails and crustaceans but also vertebrate prey such as fish, amphibians and snakes.

Originally discovered in 2017, the newest fossil found now resides in the paleontology collections at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal, Utah.