This fossil pollen found in the stomach of a fly is 47 million years old

This fossil pollen found in the stomach of a fly is 47 million years old

Found in the sediments of an ancient lake in Germany, an unknown fossil fly species harbored a surprise in its stomach: pollen from various plants . The pollen extracted was dominated by grains of Decodon (water willow) and Parthenocissus (virgin ivy).

The remains are dated to 47 million years, as detailed in the study described in the study published in Current Biology .

Habits and ecology

The fossil pollen from the stomach of the fly was used to reconstruct the old environment inhabited by the fly, the biotic interactions between the plant and the fly and the behavior of the fly during feeding, which allowed to obtain unusual information about the behavior of the fly. feeding, ecology and the role of the fly as a pollinator.


The hump on the abdomen is congruent with a congested crop, in this case containing pollen grains, the fly’s last meal. Comparison with the anatomy of existing flies shows that the crop is located in the first three abdominal segments

As explained by study co-author Fridgeir Grímsson , from the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research at the University of Vienna:

The rich pollen content that we discovered in the fly’s stomach suggests that flies were already feeding and transporting pollen 47 million years ago and shows that it played an important role in the dispersal of pollen from various plant taxa. Flies were important pollinators in ancient (sub) tropical equivalent ecosystems and may even have overshadowed bees.