A story broke late last week about a new discovery: the tail of a dinosaur locked in amber. This is exciting, of course, as far as it goes. But in a shameful act of narrative misdirection, the mainstream media has avoided discussing the most substantive finding in the golden amber. As editor of The Daily Ant, I believe it is my duty to highlight the true hero of this story: Gerontoformica.
Gerontoformica is an extinct ant genus known from fossils in amber. Discovered in 2004, the genus exhibits some traits that are rare in extant ants, including unique antennae with very short scapes. This and other traits give the ant a bit of a wasp-like appearance, and possibly represent transition traits between modern ants and the ancestral wasp species from which ants evolved. It goes without saying that ant fossil discoveries such as these are always exciting and should be celebrated.
Yet one looks in vain to find any real acknowledgement of this recent finding, beyond the occasional cursory reference. Not in reports by ABC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN… and the list goes on. National Geographic merely notes that “A Cretaceous-era ant and plant debris were also trapped in the resin.” Why all the secrecy about the ants? It seems obvious that the mainstream media is pushing the usual vertebrates-first agenda, refusing to even acknowledge the existence of prominent invertebrates or – even worse – relegating coverage of them to a tiny caption or small comment in an empty gesture of support. We must demand better, more ant-friendly coverage from our national media.