Beetles are among the most important pollinators in the world, and new fossil evidence suggests that they were pollinating plants millions of years ago.
Researchers have found an ancient bogan beetle in Burmese amber along with cycad pollen. The beetle, called Cretoparacucujus cycadophilus, lived about 99 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
"Boganid beetles have been ancient pollinators of cycads since the Age of Cycads and Dinosaurs," said Chenyang Cai of the University of Bristol. Our findings indicate a probable ancient origin of beetle pollination of cycads, at least in the early Jurassic, long before angiosperm dominance and the appearance of pollinators, such as bees, later in the Cretaceous. "
The old beetle was discovered in the city of Tanai in northern Myanmar, it stuck in sticky tree sap which was later petrified into amber.The beetle's large jaws with the cavity indicated that the insect was a pollinator of cycads. Researching the fossil, the researchers found several small pollen grains inside the amber, and the grains obtained with the beetle revealed that the beetle was carrying cyclone pollen shortly before its death.
"I just wanted to know What this pollen is. It's not on the beetle's body, but it's very close to the beetle and its mouthpiece. Cai told the New York Times.
Further analysis revealed that the beetle is closely related to Australian Paracucujus, which pollinates the Cycad Macrozamia Riedlei.Cretoparacucujus cycadophilus was a two-millimeter-long insect with a large head, sharp claws and large antennae
While beetles are known to pollinate plants, no conclusive fossil evidence has been found to support cycads, especially old beetles are rarely trapped in amber, making it the first time explorers have discovered an ancient beetle found a piece of amber with cycad pollen.
Cycad may have been the first insect-pollinated plant to resemble palms, but belong to a separate group that appeared on Earth about 270 million years ago.