The amber mite

©CNRS Phototheque/Dario De Francheschi
© CNRS Phototheque/Dario De Francheschi

This mite, with perfectly intact internal organs, is between 12 and 15 million years old. Close to Iquitos at the foot of the Andes (Peru), researchers have discovered fossilised insects, algae and other micro-organisms embedded in pieces of amber, like little jewels set into the banks of the Amazon.

Scientists from the Paleobiodiversity and Paleoenvironments laboratory of France's National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) will endeavour to sequence fragments of their DNA for a phylogenetic study. This discovery is proof that the region has been host to a flourishing biodiversity for a very long time.