Ecology of a fossilized cockroach in amber was revealed by confocal microscopy and thin sectioning technology
Insect sensory organs play an essential role in detecting information about their surrounding environment. Despite their small size and few sensory neurons, they have excellent abilities to process information, comparable to those of vertebrates. This is considered one of the primary reasons for the great success of insects, which account for 70% of all animal species. It is therefore important to investigate the sensory organs in evolutionary paleontological studies on insects.
Ryo Taniguchi and Associate Professor Yasuhiro Iba of the Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Assistant Professor Hiroshi Nishino of the Research Institute of Electronic Science, Hokkaido University, Dr. Shûhei Yamamoto of the Hokkaido University Museum, and Associate Professor Hidehiro Watanabe of the Department of Earth System Science, Fukuoka University, reported a method for removing the amber substrate from a male fossilized cockroach in amber, Huablattula hui, as much as possible, and creating thin section specimens with the sensory organs still enclosed. The results of confocal microscopy observation of the specimen show that analysis of micro sensory organs is extremely effective in reconstructing detailed lifestyles of fossilized insects. In this application note, we introduce an example of the contribution of the laser scanning confocal microscope to the results of this research.