Scientists have discovered a piece of amber is an amazing ancient creature
19 August, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Darnell Taylor
"Boganiid beetles have been ancient pollinators for cycads since the Age of Cycads and Dinosaurs", he points out in a statement. Because locked in the amber with it was evidence of how insects helped with pollination long before the arrival of flowering plants.
Cycads, or leafhoppers, are the most ancient gymnosperm plant, common on the earth before the emergence of flowering plants.
Bees and butterflies are primarily known for pollinating flowers. Though the beetle has always been suspect No. 1 for shuttling pollen from male to female cycads, the new specimen, found in Myanmar, significantly strengthens the case, The New York Times reports.
A dorsal view of the mid-Cretaceous beetle Cretoparacucujus cycadophilus, including the mandibular cavities it likely used for pollination.
Amazingly preserved remains of a 99-million-year-old beetle that crawled alongside T-Rex has been found in amber (pictured).
It is believed that the mutually beneficial cooperation of Coleoptera beetles and cycads are commenced not less than 250 million years ago and possibly much earlier, although direct paleontological evidence is not found.
Chenyang Cai, study lead author and now a research fellow at the University of Bristol, explains that he was instantly intrigued by the discovery of the beetle.
Dr Cai said: 'Our find indicates a probable ancient origin of beetle pollination of cycads at least in the Early Jurassic, long before angiosperm dominance and the radiation of flowering-plant pollinators, such as bees, later in the Cretaceous'. Indeed, when Cai and colleagues examined the fossil more closely under a microscope, they discovered tiny pollen grains.
Beetles commonly pollinate cycads in South Africa and Australia - supporting an ancient origin of the relationship, say the researchers. Their analysis indicates the fossilized beetle belonged to a sister group to the extant Australian Paracucujus, which pollinate the relic cycad Macrozamia riedlei. Li analyzed pollen grains from the amber first spotted by Cai, confirming that it had come from a cycad.
The insect in question, no more than two millimeters long, belongs to the ancient boganiid family - known cycad pollinators, notes Gizmodo.
Cai has been attempting to find similar beetle pollinators that are left undiscovered.
Today, most flowering plants, including many food crops, could not reproduce without the insect transport of pollen.
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