The new species of dung beetle fossil discovered in a geoscience lesson at Keio University’s Oho High School
It has been verified that the fossilized bug found in a Japanese high school classroom belongs to a newly discovered species of dung beetle.
Kota Yatagai, who was a student at Keio joγ High School in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, found the nearly completely preserved fossil in his rock during a geoscience lesson in September of last year.
The way the lesson was taught involved the pupils throwing rocks at each other in an attempt to find objects. The rocks were taken out of strata that developed around 300,000 years ago on the premises of a natural history museum in eastern Japan.
In 1995, Hiroaki Aiba, a science teacher at Keio Yochisha Elementary School in affiliation with the Konoha Forest Museum in Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, came up with the technique after seeing pebbles that his students had made as mementos.
Currently, over 1,000 museums and schools, including Keio ̔eſ̚o\ High School, employ this strategy with the museum’s participation.
Aiba, who was informed of the fossilized insect’s discovery, deduced that the 25-millimeter-long beetle fossil belonged to the animal dung-eating Geotrupidae family but had certain traits not found in other species.
He was able to confirm that the fossil belonged to a new species in the genus Ceratophyus with the aid of a researcher from outside, and he named the species Ceratophyus yatagaii in Yatagai’s honor.
“I believe this is the first time a new Ĕрeсіe̕ has been found in a classroom,” Aiba remarked, speculating that the Ceratophyus yatagaii might have died alongside animals whose excrement the beetle consumed.
“It would be intriguing to learn more about those creatures,” he continued.
Aiba and his co-authors recently published their findings in a manuscript in an international publication that was published by the Paleontological Society of Japan.