A Probable Pollination Mode Before Angiosperms: Eurasian, Long-Proboscid Scorpionflies

College of Life Sciences, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 11/2009; 326(5954):840-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1178338
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The head and mouthpart structures of 11 species of Eurasian scorpionflies represent three extinct and closely related families during a 62-million-year interval from the late Middle Jurassic to the late Early Cretaceous. These taxa had elongate, siphonate (tubular) proboscides and fed on ovular secretions of extinct gymnosperms. Five potential ovulate host-plant taxa co-occur with these insects: a seed fern, conifer, ginkgoopsid, pentoxylalean, and gnetalean. The presence of scorpionfly taxa suggests that siphonate proboscides fed on gymnosperm pollination drops and likely engaged in pollination mutualisms with gymnosperms during the mid-Mesozoic, long before the similar and independent coevolution of nectar-feeding flies, moths, and beetles on angiosperms. All three scorpionfly families became extinct during the later Early Cretaceous, coincident with global gymnosperm-to-angiosperm turnover.

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Available from: Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn, Aug 27, 2015
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    • "Their persistence and unique ancestry provide researchers the opportunity to gain insight into many aspects of plant evolution and biology (Norstog and Nicholls 1997). Recent evidence of ancient gymnosperminsect associations inferred from fossils of Mesozoic origin (Klavins et al. 2005; Krassilov et al. 2007; Labandeira et al. 2007; Ren et al. 2009; Peñalver et al. 2012) and cycad studies since the 1980s have changed perceptions of how early seed plants were pollinated. "
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