Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have discovered the world's oldest beetle (beetle, in this case, a collective term that collectively refers to insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and other arthropods). The specimen is the ancestor of the centipede found on the island of Kerrera in Scotland, its age is 425 million years.
The fossil found is an extinct species of the millipede Kampecaris obanensis. And although it itself was discovered back in 1899, only now scientists have been able to establish its exact age.
To do this, the team used radiometric dating technology on zircon in the sediments. Zircon is tiny, incredibly durable mineral granules, so they survive all sorts of geological events that leave traces on them. This makes them ideal time capsules. For example, the team examined zircon pellets from three fossil sites in the UK, where some of the earliest millipede specimens are known to have been found. The age of Kampecaris turned out to be the oldest - 425 million years, fossils from the second site of Ludlow - 420 million years, and from Cowie - 414 million years.
Based on the available data, scientists hypothesize that the Kampecaris obanensis millipede is not only the oldest millipede found to date - but one of the oldest arthropods in principle. To date, no older remains of this type have been found on Earth.