Researchers have discovered tiny fragments of fossil butterflies in rock cores more than 200 million years old Some fossils too small to be identified as simple view have revealed the interesting history of the evolution of moths and butterflies.
Researchers say they can learn more about the conservation of butterflies and moths by studying their early evolution.They used the acid to dissolve ancient rocks, leaving small fragments, including the "perfectly preserved" scales that covered the wings of first moths and butterflies. "We found the remains microscopic of these organisms in the form of these scales, "said Dr. Bas van de Schootbrugge of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. In addition, they show that some of the moths and butterflies belonged to a group still alive today that have long tongues like straw to suck nectar.
"These findings push back the evolution of this group with proboscis – with one language – about 70 million years," said Dr. van de Schootbrugge. "Our findings show that the group that is supposed to co-evolve with flowers is actually much older." The Jurassic was a world dominated by gymnosperm plants, such as conifers, which produced sugary nectar to capture pollen from the air. Primitive insects may have fed on this nectar, before the flowering plants came around 130 million years ago. Dr. Russell Garwood of the University of Manchester, who is not related to the study, said that it had always been assumed that the coiled mouth pieces had evolved along with the flowers that these animals pollinated. "This new evidence suggests that perhaps the rolled-up mouthparts had another role, before the flowering plants evolved," he said. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, gives clues about how butterflies and moths have spread so widely, thriving on all continents except Antarctica. The first Lepidoptera survived the massive extinction at the end of the Triassic, which annihilated many other living beings. This knowledge will help inform modern conservation efforts, said Dr. Timo van Eldijk, also of the University of Utrecht, the principal investigator of the study. The information is "primordial to help us reconstruct how the current human-induced climate change could affect insects and their evolution in the future," he said.
Butterflies and moths are fragile creatures, which means that fossil evidence is rare. Scientists have relied heavily on DNA evidence from modern moths and moths, which can be used to make an evolutionary tree of life.