Studying amber from Myanmar about 99 million years old, professor at the Institute of Geology and Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Chenyang Tsai and his colleagues found a small pollinator beetle from the time of the dinosaurs.
In the frozen amber, a beetle and pollen particles were found, which show that it perched on the inflorescences of angiosperms. It is about 99 million years old.
The beetle itself was from the Kateretidae family. Modern members of this family live in Australia and feed on pollen, corollas, and flower ovaries.
Their prehistoric ancestor, judging by the conclusions of scientists, ate and collected the pollen of the first flowering plants. As scientists assume, these insects climbed into inflorescences and collected pollen using the hairs on the beetle’s abdomen.
So far, scientists cannot say which plants this beetle pollinated. Based on the shape of the pollen grains, paleontologists suggest that these were ancient dicotyledonous flower plants from the genus Tricolpopollenites.
From the new work, it follows that the first pollinators appeared almost simultaneously with flowering plants. Because of their rapid evolution, flowering plants have spread rapidly.