Ancient caterpillar had armoured spikes to protect it from early birds



Model of an ancient and very spiny caterpillar

Joachim Haug

An early caterpillar that lived alongside the dinosaurs had sharp spines along its back to defend against predators.

It is the first example of an armoured caterpillar so early in evolutionary history. The find suggests that caterpillars – the larval form of lepidopteran insects (known commonly as butterflies and moths) – were already diversifying at an early stage of their existence.

Butterflies and moths originated during the dinosaur era, but until now we had found very few winged adults and just four fossil caterpillars from that time. This is an unfortunate …

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