BEACON TRANSCRIPT – According to a new paleontological study, during the Jurassic era there was an insect, closely resembling the modern butterfly, which helped many species of plants to reproduce. The Jurassic insect shares a common ancestry with the modern butterfly, even though 85 million years separates them.
A recent discovery may shed another light on the principle of convergent evolution. According to this evolutionary principle, different species of creatures may evolve similar physical traits.
A team of paleontologists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum has discovered a new species of insect one that closely resembles the modern butterfly. According to their testimonies, the newly discovered insect actually more related to other modern species of insect such snakeflies of mayflies than to butterflies.
Still, the resemblance between the two seems uncanny. From what we can gather, both of the insects have the same type pattern of their tear-shaped wings, all the way down to the eye model. And, according to the team who made this discovery, both the butterfly and the newly-discovered insect, dubbed the kalligrammatid lacewings have the same pigmentation system, determined by microscopical scales found on their wings.
The only issue involving the study of the kalligrammatid lacewings is that there were not enough fossils to go around. The difficulty arises when it came to preserving the delicate body of the insect. Luckily, the team of scientists in charge of the project recovered 20 perfectly preserved fossils from a digging site located in the northeastern region of China.
From their initial determination, it would seem that the butterfly-like insect lived the Jurassic era, nearly 145 million years ago. By comparison, the insect that evolved into the modern day butterfly made its stage appearance approximately 40 to 85 million years ago.
Although the butterfly and the kalligrammatid lacewings have similar traits, it would seem that the latter is more related to snakeflies or mayflies than to butterflies. However, David Dilcher, a paleobotanist working for the University of Indiana declared that although the two species of insects are different, they indeed shared a common ancestor. Allegedly, this ancestor from which the two species of insects evolved lived approximately 320 million years ago.
A Jurassic insect shares a common ancestry with the modern butterfly is the conclusion of a new paleontological study performed by the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum. Moreover, according to John Barrat from the Smithsonian’s, the newly discovered link between the insect mirrors the concept of convergent evolution, where two species of creatures, evolve similar physical traits, even though they are from completely different species.
The study’s conclusion is that the principle of convergent evolution can happen even across many years.