Scientists found in amber the oldest beetle

This is a reconstruction of the mid Cretaceous beetle Cretoparacucujus burmiticus

This is a reconstruction of the mid Cretaceous beetle Cretoparacucujus burmiticus

This suggests that cycads may have been the first insect-pollinated plants.

Flowering plants, or angiosperms, are well known for their special relationship with insects and other pollinating animals.

Another wonderful discovery in amber from Myanmar - beetle, epilepsy the cycads before the death of dinosaurs and the emergence of flowering plants. First, they now are the main pollinators of these plants.

The researchers discovered a new genus and species of boganiid beetle, named Cretoparacucujus cycadophilus Cai and Escalona, 2018, preserved with many tiny cycad pollen grains and possessing specialized mandibular patches for the transport of cycad pollen.

A new discovery of a beetle preserved in 99-million-year-old amber offers a picture of some of the earliest pollinating insects on the planet. Cai says it's very probable that beetle pollination of cycads evolved before the eventual breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent during the Early Jurassic, some 167 million years ago.

Specifically, the team found and analyzed a 99-million-year-old boganiid beetle trapped inside a Burmese amber from Kachin State, Myanmar.

After cutting, trimming, and polishing the specimen to get a better look under a microscope, Cai's excitement only grew. This may mean that the first pollinators to appear even earlier - from 200 to 145 million years ago.

"Boganiid beetles have been ancient pollinators for cycads since the Age of Cycads and Dinosaurs", says Chenyang Cai, now a research fellow at the University of Bristol. This discovery may turn the idea of beetle pollinators in the earlier periods of the Earth's existence."Our finding indicates a very ancient origin of the pollination beetles cicadas, at least in the early Jurassic, long before the advent and spread of flowering plants and their pollinators, such as bees and butterflies", said the paleontologist.Evidence of early pollination is rare, so the new study is so awesome.

Those cycads didn't boast flowers, they did have pollen. Liqin Li, an expert in ancient pollen at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, later confirmed that the pollen grains belonged to a cycad.

The researchers also conducted an extensive phylogenetic analysis to explore the beetle's family tree.

This suggested the fossilised beetle belonged to a sister group to the Australian Paracucujus, which pollinates the relic cycad Macrozamia riedlei today.

Dr Cai believes similar beetle pollinators of cycads are yet to be found.

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