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

College of Life Sciences, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 11/2009; 326(5954):840-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1178338
Source: PubMed


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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    • "So it could be supposed that some of these lacewings were specialized pollinators like other Mesozoic insects with siphonate mouthparts , for example scorpionflies in the families Mesopsychidae, Aneuretopsychidae, and Pseudopolycentropodidae. Representatives of these three families with long proboscises, as well as kalligrammatids, first appeared in the Middle Jurassic (viz. Daohugou), and their extinction during the late Early Cretaceous coincided with the decline and extinction of a number of gymnosperm taxa at the time of the angiosperm radiation (Ren et al., 2009 "
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