Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente

Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente, Deputy Head of Research here at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, tells us how he first became interested in natural history. Hear about his work as a palaeoentomologist specialising in the study of insects fossilised in amber, including the discovery of a fascinating lacewing species from around 100 million years ago with an ingenious method of camouflage and defence.

Ricardo’s research into the fossilised lacewing species, Hallucinochrysa diogenesi, has shown that the strategy of covering the body with materials from the environment as a way to camouflage and defend, known as trash-carrying, evolved at least 100 million years ago. Several species of invertebrates use this strategy today, including green lacewing larvae, and some sea urchin and crab species. Can you think of other ways in which insects defend themselves from their prey? Let us know in the comments below or in the Contact Us section of the blog.

Make an Insect in Amber Decoration

Insects that have been trapped in amber (fossilised plant resin) can be preserved in amazing, stunning and beautiful detail. This short video shows you how to make a fossilised insect themed decoration that can be hung on your Christmas tree for the festive period, or can be displayed around you home all year round.

I have included the written instructions in case you find them helpful.

You will need:

  • A glue stick
  • Scissors
  • A Pencil
  • Card (e.g. cereal box)
  • Paper String/wool
  • Orange cellophane sweet wrapper(s)
  • Coloured pencils/pens/glitter

Instructions

  1. Take two pieces of card that are roughly the same size. Put them together with the plain sides facing out.
  2. On one side draw a frame, at least 1cm thick. It can be any shape you choose.
  3. Carefully cut out the frame, including the middle.
  4. Check that your cellophane wrapper will cover both frames. If not, use two.
  5. Use the glue stick to attached the cellophane to the patterned side of the frames.
  6. Trim the cellophane around the frames.
  7. Take a small piece of paper that will fit inside the frames and draw an insect on one side. Trim the excess paper around the insect and then draw a similar insect on the other side.
  8. Use the glue stick to attach the frames together with the insect in the middle, and with the wool/string forming a loop that you can use to hang your decoration.
  9. Decorate your frame using coloured pencils, pens, glitter or anything else that you choose.

We would love to see your amber decorations. Also, can any of you spot the key feature of an insect that I forgot to draw to my insect picture in the video? Let us know in the comments, or by the Contact us page.

To find out more about Insects in Amber look out for a post early next year.