Insect pollinator found in 99-mn-year-old amber

Nanjing (China), Nov 13 (IANS) A beetle pollinator in a piece of Burmese amber, dating back to the mid-Cretaceous — 99 million years ago — has been discovered. It is believed to be one of the oldest pollination insects across the world.

The finding deepens the history of insect pollination of flowering plants by 50 million years.

“The research confirmed the hypothesis of Cretaceous insect-angiosperm interaction and supplied the earliest evidence for entomophily,” Xinhua quoted Wang Bo, professor of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology who led the research as saying.

“Animal pollination remains the foundation of human agriculture and terrestrial ecosystem. Now we know that this ecological mechanism emerged as early as 100 million years ago,” Wang said.

The beetle specimen included in the amber piece is identified as a new species under family Mordellidae. The extant Mordellidae beetles are a typical flower-visiting group.

Numerous pollen grains were found on and near the insect’s body in the amber piece. The study by scientists from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Indiana University, was published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.

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