Fossil Caste System
from the book, "Our Fascinating Earth"

Our Fascinating Earth

Fossil Caste System

Approximately one hundred million years ago an ant, about one—half inch in length, was crawling on a tree trunk when suddenly, without warning, it was overwhelmed and encased by a descending blob of resin. The resin eventually hardened into amber, there—by ensuring preservation of the ant.

In 1966 scientists dug the piece of amber out of ancient rock in New Jersey. The specimen, still containing the well—preserved ant, is now on exhibit at Harvard University. A study of the fossil insect, scientifically know as Sphecomyrma freyi, showed the structure of the thorax and abdomen quite clearly. It was identified as a primitive working ant.

This was rather important identification, because it indicates unmistakably that about one hundred million years ago, while dinosaurs were lumbering across the face of the earth, ants had already established their caste system of social organization!