In a recent discovery, fossils of the world’s first known plant pollinators and the oldest known insect called tillyardembiids were found in Russia. These earwig-like insects with clumps of pollen on their heads, bodies, and legs are estimated to be around 280 million years old, which predates the previously known pollen-covered insects by about 120 million years. This discovery sheds new light on the early evolution of insects and plants.
Discovery of Tillyardembiids
The fossils were discovered along the riverbank, near the village of Chekarda in Russia. According to the researchers, the fossils of these insects were well-preserved in the layers of sedimentary rocks, which were formed during the Permian period. The tillyardembiids are named after an Australian entomologist, Robert John Tillyard, who worked on the study of fossils of ancient insects.
Tillyardembiids as Plant Pollinators
The most exciting finding in these fossils is that the tillyardembiids were the world’s first-known plant pollinators. The pollen found on their bodies was from gymnosperms, a type of plant that produces seeds without flowers. The discovery suggests that these insects played an essential role in the evolution of seed plants, which are an integral part of the ecosystem today.
Importance of the Discovery
This discovery is significant as it helps in understanding the early evolution of insects and plants. The tillyardembiids are the oldest known insects and predate the previously known pollen-covered insects by about 120 million years. This discovery fills in the gap in the fossil record of plant pollinators and helps researchers to understand the role of insects in the evolution of seed plants. It also highlights the need to preserve ancient ecosystems and the importance of studying fossils.
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