12 February 2017

Jurassic lacewing vs. modern butterfly

"A study out today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: B that features IU paleobotanist David Dilcher as a co-author identifies a Jurassic-age insect whose behavior and appearance closely mimic a butterfly — but whose emergence on Earth predates the butterfly by about 40 million years.

Dilcher — who made international headlines last year for his role in discovering the mythical “first flower” — said these proverbial “first butterflies” survived in a similar manner as their modern sister insects by visiting plants with “flower-like” reproductive organs producing nectar and pollen."
"The butterfly-like insects, which went on to evolve into a different form of insect from the modern butterfly, is an extinct “lacewing” of the genus kalligrammatid called Oregramma illecebrosa. Another genus of this insect — of the order Neuroptera — survives into our modern era, and are commonly known as fishflies, owlflies or snakeflies...

... another evolutionary innovation found in the ancient lacewing fossils’ wings remained remarkably unchanged over the course of millennia: so-called “eye spots.”

This unique pattern on the wings, arising over 200 million years ago, is nearly identical to markings on the modern owl butterfly. To this day, owl butterflies use these circular marks as a defense mechanism against predators, which mistake the spots as the eyes of a larger, more threatening animal."
Text and images from Indiana University, via Vice's Motherboard.

Reposted from 2016 in recognition of Darwin Day.


  1. Hi,
    It's interesting that it has a proboscis pre-angiosperms, and makes me wonder how similar it's larvae and crysalides were to modern butterflies.
    cheers another phil

  2. These articles never give any consideration to creationists at all. The obvious question if you're a creationist is "How do you know it's not just a butterfly and you're wrong about when we got butterflies?" This makes it possible to look at the article and say "geez, those scientists have a huge blind spot" when the reaction could have been "geez, those scientists really explain a lot of little details that I can't".


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