Bug or Blossoms, Which Came First? New York Times August 1993 It has been commonly held th
Bug or Blossoms, Which Came First?
New York Times
It has been commonly held than when flowering plants evolved about 125
million years ago the insects suffered a population explosion and
radiated into many kinds adapted for feeding on the plants.
New studies, however, show that the insects began 120 million years
before the development of the angiosperms (flowering plants). Research
in literature on fossil insects from Russia, Siberia and China has
filled in gaps in the arthropod history. An unexpected finding was that
the insect mouthparts, which were thought to be adaptations for feeding
on the angiosperms, had actually developed long before the flowering
plants. About 325 million years ago insects developed wings. Because
of this, their various larval stages and their small size insects were
able early to exploit a great variety of habitats. This helps to
account for the great variety of insects which have evolved.
Although 65% of insect species were wiped out in the great Permian
extinctions these bugs made a quick comeback and rapidly adapted to the
existing non- flowering plants - the cycads, ferns and conifers.
Therefore, it was the earlier gymnosperms, and the angiosperms, which
had a big influence on the diversification of the insect families. But
Dr. Edward Wilson, author of "The Diversity of Life", states that,
inspite of these new findings, it is "still true that flowers and bees
were meant for each other".
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank