He and his team uncovered about 70 scales or scale fragments, which they dated to about 200 million years ago. When he analyzed those scales under a microscope, he found out that some scales nearly 200 million years old, were hollow in structure. The next day he conjectured there must be a moth with a proboscis roughly that long to do the job.
"Similar to angiosperm nectar, the [gymnosperm] sugary droplets offered a high-energy nutritional source, which could attract adult glossatan moths and other Mesozoic proboscate flying insects", the researchers wrote in the study.
An advanced team of scientists has unearthed fossilized bits of ancient butterflies preserved in rock cores.The discovery revealed that the earliest butterflies and moths may have existed between the Triassic and Jurassic period even before flowering plants bloomed, technically refuting the ancestral association of butterflies with flowers. Among those scales, some scales were solid and decorated with a herringbone pattern.More news: 100% FDI in single-brand retail to help Apple, Chinese cos
The scales were randomly placed in 26 metres of rock layers embracing the Triassic-Jurassic boundary near a village called Schandelah in Lower Saxony. In total, Timo discovered 70 specimens in the 201-million-year-old sample taken from 300 meters below Earth's surface.
The finding reported in Science Advances offers a "Triassic-Jurassic window" into the evolution of Lepidoptera. The fossils were found inside an ancient rock from Germany.
This is a living representative of a primitive Glossata, moths that have a proboscid that suck up fluids like nectar.
"Development of the proboscis may be regarded as an adaptive innovation to sucking free liquids for maintaining the insect's water balance under arid conditions". The new find fits the time line for Lepidoptera evolution suggested by molecular evidence-and helps correct a puzzling gap in the fossil record. Glossatan moths mostly feed on angiosperms - plants that produce flowers.More news: Pilots Still Struggle to Land Planes at SFO
As theory has it, this group evolved their proboscises (long and mobile sucking mouthparts) as a response to flowering plants.
This replaced the chewing mouthparts of their ancestors - a transition that was probably triggered by climate rather than food. Furthermore, if the scientists are right, it means that the butterfly and moth family didn't evolve their proboscis to feed from flowers specifically, but that the appendages came in handy later when flowers evolved.
Another is that the early Jurassic and late Triassic era was a very dry and arid time and the proboscis of the butterflies was an 'efficient technique to replenish lost moisture and survive desiccation stress, ' the researchers said in the study.
Due to their make-up, now butterflies and moths can easily adapt to a variety of different conditions spreading to different continents except Antarctica, which indicates how insects might respond to the global warming and answer questions surrounding Lepidoptera's resilience to extinction throughout the years.More news: Pope Francis invites new mothers to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel