“This is the oldest fossil of an ant found on an island of volcanic origin and the first record for the Macaronesian islands [Madeira, Azores, Canary Islands, and Cape Verde]”, says the institution in a statement.

The study concerning the fossil was signed by Carlos Góis Marques (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain), Pedro Correia (University of Coimbra), André Nel (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, France), José Madeira (University of Lisbon) and Miguel Menezes de Sequeira (University of Madeira) and published on Monday in the scientific journal “Historical Biology”.

“Until now, it was unknown when these insects arrived on the island of Madeira”, indicates the University of Madeira, explaining that, according to the bibliography, ants are very ineffective dispersers, and the crossing of oceans by air or even by rafts nature is considered a rare event.

“Around the world, there are archipelagos that do not have native ants, as is the case of the Hawaiian archipelago, where all the species now found were introduced by humans”.

According to the University of Madeira, the fossil found on the island is a fragment of a wing of a winged ant, which was in sediments that were one million and three hundred thousand years old.

“This fossil is of international importance as it demonstrates that, after all, a species of ants managed to cross the ocean and reach the island of Madeira in a natural way”, underlines the institution, reinforcing that it is the oldest fossil of an ant found on an island of volcanic origin.