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Current Affairs

Trapped beetle provides earliest evidence of insect pollination

Date: 13 November 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The earliest-known example of a pollinating insect has been found preserved in amber dating back to around 99 million years ago.

 

Background

Apart from earliest known direct evidence of insect pollination of flowering plants, this specimen perfectly illustrates the cooperative evolution of plants and animals during this time period.

 

Details

  • The fossilised tumbling flower beetle was found with pollen still stuck to its legs preserved in amber from deep inside a mine in northern Myanmar's Hukawng Valley.

  • The find pushes back the earliest-documented instance of insect pollination to around 50 million years earlier than previously thought.

  • The preserved insect is a newly discovered species of beetle which researchers have named Angimordella burmitina.

  • The scientists  analysed the 62 pollen grains found with the beetle preserved in the amber and found out that they had evolved specifically to be spread through contact with such insects.

  • The research determined that the beetle was a pollinator based on its body shape and having pollen-feeding mouth-parts, which they studied using a microscopic imaging method called X-ray micro-computed tomography.

  • Prior to this study, the earliest physical evidence for insects pollinating flowering plants came from 50 million years ago, in the so-called Middle Eocene period.