Butterfly scale fossils show they have been around at least 200M years

Butterfly scale fossils show they have been around at least 200M years

There are pollen and spores.

Fossil scales of moths and butterflies as found in the drill cores from Schandelah, Lower Saxony, Germany. He added that the finding may provide evidence that the iconic way moths and butterflies pollinate wildflowers today, flying from petal to petal, evolved millions of years ago with a completely different type of plant.

The authors of the paper suspect that since the scales on the wings look just like the members of this group, the ancient species from the fossils might be a member as well, hosting the characteristic curled-up drinking tubes on their faces.

Those perforations turned out to be a critical detail.

They used acid to dissolve ancient rocks, leaving behind small fragments, including "perfectly preserved" scales that covered the wings of early moths and butterflies.

"The consensus has been that insects followed flowers", Strother said in the statement.

That coevolution, and the often exquisitely precise matchup between flower and pollinator, have been a subject of perennial fascination for naturalists.

The emergence of flowers puzzled Darwin, but most scientists assumed flowers predated the earliest pollinators. "Good heavens, what insect can suck it?"

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"So these moths and butterflies used their tongue to tap into other liquids that were available at the time, namely the sugary nectar produced by conifer-like plants". Just such a moth, with an 11-inch-long coiled proboscis, finally turned up 45 years later.

This shift in host food preference from gymnosperms to angiosperms challenges the notion that the development of the sucking proboscis was an adaptive response to the evolution of angiosperm flowers.

It has also been revealed that the insect order, which is believed to have been co-evolved with flowers, is actually much older.

Other scientists greeted the find with excitement, as it begins to fill what University of CT lepidopterist David Wagner calls "this huge gap in the fossil record". Hence, it can be said that the latest study upends the traditional ideas regarding the proboscis of butterflies. "If they had a proboscis, what were they using it for?" "It was odd to say the least, that there would be butterflies before there were flowers".

As per the study, the only moths and butterflies having hollow scales are from the Group Glossata which are known to have proboscis. "Not all tongues are created equal". The researchers concluded the first Lepidopterans fed on non-flowering seed plants called gymnosperms, which were the dominant plant group during the Jurassic.

Five years later, Strother and colleagues from natural history museums in Germany and a university in the Netherlands have developed a scientific case showing the Lepidoptera evolved earlier than previously established - emerging during the Jurassic period.

While studying fossil cores dating to the late Triassic and early Jurassic periods, an worldwide team of researchers discovered the fossilized remains of the tiny scales that coat the bodies of butterflies and moths. "There are lots of biological structures that hang around with one function-and at a later point that function gets changed, or all of a sudden that function has a new context". If you want to do this on a larger time scale, it's going to be a lot of work.

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