According to experts, a 40 million years old jurassic ‘butterfly’ has been discovered. Its behavior and appearance closely mimic a butterfly – but its emergence on Earth predates the butterfly by a long time.
- Oregramma illecebros is the name of the newly discovered insect
- The fossils are rumored to be about 40 million years old
- Scientist place the fossils in the time of the dinosaurs
- The fossils have been discovered in ancient lake deposits in northeastern China and eastern Kazakhstan
- The butterfly-like species belongs to an extinct ‘lacewing’ lineage classified in the genus Kalligrammatid
The Earth has many hidden secrets in its history. Fossils are among the most valuable sources of information about the Earth’s past. They tell us about the organisms that lived on Earth from the time of the oldest fossils, about 3.8 billion years ago, to the present.
It is certain that all the things we know and continue to discover about prehistoric times we owe to records set in stone. On that note, a recently cache of well-preserved fossils was found in ancient lake deposits in northeastern China and eastern Kazakhstan.
Among those fossils were a number of extinct ‘lacewing’ insects of the genus kalligrammatid – what scientists are calling Jurassic ‘butterflies.’ Scientist place the fossils in the time of the dinosaurs and they say that they are an example of convergent evolution where two related species adapt independently in a similar way.
As for the appearance, this extinct lacewing had large wings with eyespots much like you would see in a modern butterfly, and it also had a long tongue meant for collecting nectar in flowers. But it was still quite different from modern butterflies.
David Dilcher, a paleobotanist at Indiana University, said, in a news release, that
Upon examining these new fossils, however, we’ve unraveled a surprisingly wide array of physical and ecological similarities between the fossil species and modern butterflies, which shared a common ancestor 320 million years ago.
Another very interesting fact is that small bits of food and pollen were found in the proboscis of this ancient insect. This helped scientists understand more about their foraging behaviors. Moreover, it is clear for the scientists that kalligrammatids couldn’t have fed on flowers, because the few flowers that existed at the time were the wrong shape.
The ScienceMag notes that, if you traveled back in time 150 million years, you might encounter the familiar sight of butterflies sipping nectar—only the insects wouldn’t be butterflies. They would be an extinct group of lacewings, which pollinated long-ago relatives of pine trees and cycads.
However, it is beautiful to see how Earth provides us with evidence of life from million years ago and we can only enjoy this evidence.
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