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“Confounding”: Moths and butterflies predate flowering plants by millions of years

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From ScienceDaily: They predate the Createous period, moths and butterflies existed earlier than the Cretaceous period, which began 145 million years ago.

A team of scientists report on new evidence that primitive moths and butterflies existed during the Jurassic period, approximately 50 million years earlier than the first flowering plants, shedding new light on one of the most confounding cases of co-evolution.

The slides of rock samples drilled in the German countryside included some material that looked familiar to Strother, a Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences researcher at Boston College’s Weston Observatory, who studies the origin and early evolution of land plants. What he saw were features similar to those found in insect wings.

The wrinkle was that these types of moths and butterflies — known as Lepidoptera — were long posited to have evolved 50 to 70 million years later, during the Cretaceous period when the first flowering plants emerged as their prime food source.

“The consensus has been that insects followed flowers,” said Strother, a co-author of “A Triassic-Jurassic window into the evolution of Lepidoptera,” a new report published today in Science Advances. “But that would be 50 million years later than what the wings were saying. It was odd to say the least, that there would be butterflies before there were flowers.”Paper. (public access) – Timo J. B. van Eldijk, Torsten Wappler, Paul K. Strother, Carolien M. H. van der Weijst, Hossein Rajaei, Henk Visscher, Bas van de Schootbrugge. A Triassic-Jurassic window into the evolution of Lepidoptera. Science Advances, 2018; 4 (1): e1701568 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701568 More.

The insects were feeding on “ pollen droplets of gymnosperm seeds — from conifers related to pines, seed plants without fruits and flowers.”

The researchers say,

“This is the old-fashioned science of discovery,” said Strother. “We’re looking at this microscopic world of things that lived hundreds of millions of years ago and we don’t know what they are. The challenge is: can we figure out what they are? Part of it is piecing together the tree of life, or the evolution of organisms through time. It is more like a puzzle or a mystery.”

Actually, it’s like history, full of surprises. What it’s not like is dogma or propaganda.

See also: How did smart crow beak adapt to tool use?

Speaking of ways evolution can happen, there’s also co-evolution


Life continues to ignore what evolution experts say

or a few days :) if RCCF framework for understanding science in max avail contex! perhaps evidence outside of Eden, above water vegetation did not breach, till Adam prayed for rain after day 8 departure from Eden. Reference The Recent Complex Creation Framework Pearlman
Seems like the wrong insect for the which-first question. Adult moths and butterflies don't eat much. Some don't eat at all. Their job is to mate and die. Caterpillars eat all sorts of plant material, especially leaves. The which-first question is worth asking for bees and wasps, who unquestionably love flowers. polistra
Perhaps they have always been concurrent and it is only the vagaries of fossilisation that makes them appear otherwise. aarceng
You don't understand evolution. :) Dionisio
shedding new light on one of the most confounding cases of co-evolution.
If you start out by trying to figure out how something happened without knowing if it happened, expect to be confounded. The evidence for co-evolution is that insects exist, flowers exist, and they're co-dependent. That was easy! Now just keep the rest in really broad strokes because details are never your friends. OldAndrew
This is another solid proof of the power of RV+NS :) Dionisio
This discovery puts OOL closer to being resolved. :) Dionisio

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