Scientists: Russia is the birthplace of the first insect pollinators

Paleontologists have discovered in the Perm region the oldest sucking insects with a long proboscis that lived 273-283 million years ago.

The journal Current Biology notes that scientists have studied the structure of the oral organs of these insects and believe that they pollinated ancient gymnosperms with drops of a sweet liquid.

According to modern scientific evidence, insects pollinated plants long before flowering plants appeared. The presence of a long sucking proboscis in insects confirms this process.

Until now, it was believed that the most ancient mouth structure of this type was in bands and scorpions found in China in the Jurassic deposits, which are about 165 million years old. A new study has allowed paleontologists to date an even earlier date for the origin of insect pollinators, more than 100 million years old.

Scientists from the Institute of Paleontology and the Institute of Geology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with scientists from Poland, studied the prints of insects from the Protomeropidae family, which were found in the Early Permian deposits in the village of Chikarda in the Perm Region, but did not determine their exact identity.

However, they proved that these insects have a proboscis consisting of two connected palps in the lower jaw, as is currently found in some species of beetles and modern insects. It appears that the ancient insects also fed on droplets from the seeds of the extinct family Angaropeltaceae rather than nectar.

Interestingly, Angaropeltaceae seed capsules were found in the same place where the fossils of these insects were found, said Alexander Khramov, senior researcher at the Institute of Paleontology. These bolls were kept half-closed until the seeds ripened, which reduced the efficiency of the wind in the pollination process. This means that insects played the main role in the pollination of these plants.

Source: RIA Novosti