Scientists have discovered an insect from the Jurassic period that closely resembles a butterfly, but lived 40 million years before the ancestors of today’s butterflies emerged. This winged bug is believed the be the ancient ancestor of a modern order of insects commonly known as “lacewings,” but shared many characteristics with butterflies. By examining some beautifully preserved fossils found in the remains of ancient lakes, the scientists concluded that these bugs used a long tongue (like a proboscis) to drink nectar out of extinct plants called bennettitales, and had “hairy” legs that allowed them to collect and transport pollen from plant to plant. But perhaps most surprising was the discovery that these ancient insects had “eye spots” exactly like many butterflies of today. Eye spots can be used for many purposes including frightening away predators, tricking predators into attacking non-essential parts of the body, and even attracting a mate (like peacock feathers). Whatever these insects used their spots for, it is amazing to see how evolution can “reinvent” characteristics over and over throughout time. I hope that in the sequel to Jurassic World, the park owners will finally wise up, and decide to open a “butterfly garden” instead of a new T-Rex exhibit. Hey, I would pay to see that.
Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160203134942.htm
Feb 16, 2016