Evolution has not altered the fig wasp in 34 million years, scientists have discovered.
Three fossil specimens, the oldest examples of their species known, were found on the Isle of Wight in the 1920s but wrongly labelled as ants.
A new study of the fossils, housed at the Natural History Museum in London, has confirmed they are fig wasps, the modern versions of which pollinate fig trees in the same way they did 34 million years ago, advanced microscopy techniques confirmed.
Dr Steve Compton, from the University of Leeds, who led the research published today in the journal Biology Letters, said: "What makes this fossil fascinating is not just its age, but that it is so similar to the modern species.
"This means that the complex relationship that exists today between the fig wasps and their host trees developed more than 34 million years ago and has remained unchanged since then."