Scientists have discovered a beetle trapped in amber that dates back to 99 million years, a finding that may help better understand the relationship between ancient flowering plants and pollinators.
According to a study published in the journal Current Biology, an ancient boganiid beetle preserved in Burmese amber has been found along with grains of cycad pollen.
The study uncovers the earliest definitive fossil evidence of the relationship between cycads and insects.
Cycads, a group of unusual evergreen gymnosperms, may have been the first insect-pollinated plants.
The beetle also shows special adaptations, including mandibular patches, for the transport of cycad pollen.
A research fellow at the University of Bristol in the UK, Chenyang Cai said, Boganiid beetles have been ancient pollinators for cycads since the Age of Cycads and Dinosaurs.
Cai said, the find indicates a probable ancient origin of beetle pollination of cycads at least in the Early Jurassic, long before angiosperm dominance and the radiation of flowering-plant pollinators, such as bees, later in the Cretaceous.
The researchers also conducted an extensive phylogenetic analysis to explore the beetle’s family tree.