In a recent event at Lyme Regis Museum, local collector James Carroll showed Dr Andrew Ross (fossil insect expert at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh) some specimens of fossil insects that he had collected. Dr Ross excitedly recognised one unusual wing as that of a giant water bug (family Belostomatidae). This family, which includes the largest true bugs in the world, do not live in the UK today. However they are well known from America, e.g. the Florida Everglades, and in Asia where they are eaten as a delicacy. They are reported to have a very painful bite. Two fossil species are already known from the Lower Lias rock beds of Dorset, but James’ fossil is larger and different, so very likely represents a new species.
It is undoubtedly the largest fossil water bug known from the Jurassic (200 to 145 MYA) in the UK and Dr Ross hopes to study the specimen in detail in due course. James has generously donated the fossil to Lyme Regis Museum where it will soon be put on display. David Tucker, Museum Director added “James’s wonderful find once again demonstrates the importance of our local collectors, who brave the most challenging of weather in their hunt for new evidence of past life”.