Bug or Blossoms, Which Came First? New York Times August 1993 It has been commonly held th

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Bug or Blossoms, Which Came First? New York Times August 1993 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".

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