New imaging technology reveals a fossilized mite on top of a fossilized spider

Jurassic Park taught us that we could find insects trapped in ancient amber and analyze them — but what about the insects on top of the insects? Much like Swift's famous poem, there's a whole different layer of creatures living on top of the ones we know about, which have been too small to analyze. But now with a new technique called phase contrast X-ray computed tomography, scientists have managed to scan and analyze a mite on the head of a spider preserved in amber. The mite is just 0.2mm long.

The scan has given researchers a 3D model of the 49 million-year-old insect — the most complete record of an astigmatid mite that we've ever seen, including details of its limbs and sucker plates. It's the smallest ever complete preserved arthropod scanned, and opens new doors for analyzing really, really small ancient things with x-rays.