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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Available from: Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn
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    • "This period is marked by the rise of angiosperms, social insects, and early mammals (Benton, 2010;Lloyd et al., 2008;Meredith et al., 2011) but also by the fact that terrestrial diversity exceeded marine diversity for the first time (Vermeij and Grosberg, 2010). Discoveries based on Burmese amber fossils have provided important insights to the diversification of bryophytes (Feldberg et al., 2014;Hedenäs et al., 2014;Heinrichs et al., 2012Heinrichs et al., , 2014aHeinrichs et al., , 2014b), the evolution of insect-mediated pollination (Cardinal and Danforth, 2013;Poinar and Danforth, 2006;Ren et al., 2009), and the early diversification of ants (Barden and Grimaldi, 2014). However , little attention has been given to ferns in Burmese amber despite the occurrence of dispersed polypod sporangia (Grimaldi et al., 2002) and the polypod-like fossil Cretacifilix fungiformis (Poinar and Buckley, 2008). "
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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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