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Prehistoric 'butterfly' fossils discovered

Posted on Friday, 12 February, 2016 | Comment icon 4 comments

Lacewings had eye-like wing patterns similar to modern butterflies. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Edwin Dalorzo
A type of insect that looked very much like a modern butterfly was common during the Jurassic period.
Known as Kalligrammatid lacewings, these prehistoric flying insects were remarkably similar to their modern counterparts and even possessed familiar wing markings still seen in butterflies today.

The discovery was made thanks to two well-preserved fossils recently unearthed at a dig site in China which, for the first time, have made it possible for scientists to fully appreciate the extent to which these prehistoric winged insects resembled modern butterflies.

"Poor preservation of lacewing fossils had always stymied attempts to conduct a detailed morphological and ecological examination of the kalligrammatid," said scientist David Dilcher.

"Upon examining these new fossils, however, we’ve unraveled a surprisingly wide array of physical and ecological similarities between the fossil species and modern butterflies, which shared a common ancestor 320 million years ago."

Scientists now believe that lacewings, just like their modern counterparts, would have sustained themselves by visiting plants and lapping up the nectar using their long tongues.

There is even evidence to suggest that, like today's insects, lacewings would have helped to maintain the reproductive cycle by transporting pollen from one plant to another.

"Here, we’ve got coevolution of plants with these animals due to their feeding behavior, and we’ve got coevolution of the lacewings and their predators," said Dilcher.

"It’s building a web of life that is more and more complex."

Source: Discovery News | Comments (4)

Tags: Jurassic, Butterfly

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by coolguy on 6 February, 2016, 3:30
Thats pretty cool thanks for posting
Comment icon #2 Posted by FateAmeniableToChange on 12 February, 2016, 18:14
China seems a very interesting and productive place for palaentologists, and in this latest discovery for paleobotanists, a lot of the recent new dinosaur discoveries heve been occuring in that part of the world, and now finds like this.
Comment icon #3 Posted by NoNickname90 on 12 February, 2016, 20:50
Is anyone noticing how those wings look? Notice how the inner area looks like an owl, of some sort, but on the edges, it looks like it's resembling some snake, or reptile. If that image is a picture of the found fossils, then what if that design is close to how dinosaurs look? Oh?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Sundew on 13 February, 2016, 14:18
Is anyone noticing how those wings look? Notice how the inner area looks like an owl, of some sort, but on the edges, it looks like it's resembling some snake, or reptile. If that image is a picture of the found fossils, then what if that design is close to how dinosaurs look? Oh? Imitation of predatory animals by insects, especially butterflies and their larvae is quite common. My favorite is the Atlas Moth, a giant silk moth from Asia, it's closed wings resemble a cobra about to strike, interesting considering cobra are also from that part of the world. Many other species resemble snakes, an... [More]

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