An Early Cretaceous winged insect from Liaoning Province, China. The piece is also littered with the usual fresh water clams.
Liaoning is perhaps most famous for its feathered dinosaurs, which are found in the same beds as the insect fossil offered here. 125 million years ago repeat volcanic eruptions formed layer upon layer of fossil beds in this region, entombing a whole ecosystem in what some scientists call a Mesozoic Pompeii. With each eruption, animals, plants and insects were swept into many of the region's lakes, where their bodies were swiftly covered by a layer of ash. It's only because of these very rare burial conditions that the fossils of Liaoning are preserved in such great detail - detail which includes not just bones, but soft tissue, feathers and even the most delicate of insects.
(15mm - largest insect) (53x35mm - whole piece)
125 million years (Cretaceous)
Yixian Formation, Huangbangi Valley, Liaoning Province, China