Trapped in Amber, the Oldest Evidence of Pollination

By Valerie Ross | May 16, 2012 10:54 am

Peering inside an ancient piece of amber, scientists have uncovered the oldest direct evidence of pollination: insects covered in pollen grains, likely from a gingko tree, from between 105 and 110 million years ago. These insects—a new genus of thrips, insects that still scuttle around today—had likely gathered pollen for food, trailing it from plant to plant along the way. To get an even closer look at the specimens (without cracking open the amber), the researchers took the lump to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. There, they used synchrotron X-ray tomography to generate a detailed 3-D image of the bugs, revealing tiny, specialized hairs they used to collect pollen grains (which are shown here in yellow).

Flowering plants first evolved about 130 million years ago, making them relative evolutionary newcomers; dinosaurs had already been around for 100 million years by then. Since early on, these plants have been aided in reproduction by insects that spread their pollen from one flower to the next, and in turn helped the insects by providing sustenance. “The co-evolution of flowering plants and insects, thanks to pollination, is a great evolutionary success story,” said Carmen Soriano, one of the researchers, in a prepared statement—a story that, through finds like this one, we can watch as it unfolded.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World
  • http://????? lolo

    millions is NOT TRUE SAY THOUSANDS THATS TRUE

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »