100 million years: honey bee with pollen adhering and parasites

Paleontologists made the unique discovery that shed light on the origin of bees. This is the oldest instance with bees adhering to it pollen, and of the oldest instance with the larvae of the parasite (triungulin). The insect trapped in the resin 100 million years ago and preserved in amber.

Achievement is described in a scientific paper published in the journal Palaeodiversity George Poinar, Jr., (George Poinar Jr.) from the University of Oregon.

Flowering plants, reigning on the Earth today, appeared about 130 million years ago (although some researchers believe that much earlier). Anyway, 90-100 million years ago, they already accounted for a large part of the flora.

in flowering, there was a whole set of benefits, providing them this triumphal procession. And not the last of them were bright flowers, full of sweet nectar. Insects busily, purposefully flying flower after flower, were much more effective pollinators than carefree in the wind.

the Main flowering pollinators are bees. First, they are much more numerous than all other insects involved in this useful work. Second, this is the only pollinators that are at all stages of the life cycle they feed only on pollen and nectar. That is, the flowers they need just like the air, and they visit them very often. So cocky bear might find that bees exist to put honey on his table, but the plants in this respect his opinion.

it is believed that bees are descended from wasps. But how severe the predator turned into the sweet tooth, very little is known. Most fossil bees not older than 65 million years old and differ little from their modern counterparts.

a Bee has retained some of the characteristics of the OS, which probably happened.Photo By George Poinar Jr., The OSU College of Science.

In this sense, the new finding age of 100 millions years, made in Myanmar, is truly unique. There is no doubt that this bee is actively visited the flowers: the insect legs stuck pollen. The age of the fossils makes it the oldest sample of bees with well-preserved pollen.

Poinar carried the animal to the new family Discoscapidae, Discoscapa new genus and new species D. apicula. The insect has similarities with both modern bees and wasps.

So, with the sworn friends of Winnie the Pooh, its native hairs on the body, rounded prothorax, and a pair of spurs on their hind limbs. At the same time set very low base of antennae and some of the features of blood vessels of the wing doing D. apicula like a wasp. The lower segment of the antennae, the insect forked. This is a unique feature that no modern bees, no wasps.

Interestingly, in amber, preserving that which was lost in the resin arthropod, was 21 triungulin. The so-called larvae are parasitic insects, which “stick” to the owner, in this case the bee. Five of the intruders remained to the end in direct contact with the buzzing creature was probably trying to get out of resin.

Usually triungulina await the bees in the flowers, so that parasites became additional proof that D. apicula was an active pollinator. In addition, it is the oldest finding bees triungulina.

By the way, this may be an unwelcome burden and was the cause befell this individual fate. He weighted the insect and allowed him to fly, and that could cause “error in pilotage”.

“of Course, it is possible that a large number triungulina caused the accidental bees in resin” — suggests Poinar.

By the way, earlier “Conduct.Science” (nauka.vesti.ru) wrote about the fact that amber kept for paleontologists ancient ancient lice and aphids.

Text: To.Science