Earth Science News  





. Evolutionary Study Shows Beetles Are Life's 6-Legged Survivors

Beetles have displayed an exceptional ability to seize new ecological opportunities and develop a great range of life styles and feeding types.
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Dec 21, 2007
Most modern-day groups of beetles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have been diversifying ever since, says new research out in Science. There are approximately 350,000 species of beetles on Earth, and probably millions more yet to be discovered, accounting for about 25% of all known life forms on the planet. The reason for this large number of beetle species has been debated by scientists for many years, but never resolved.

Now a team of scientists has shown that large numbers of modern-day beetle lineages evolved very soon after the first beetles originated, and have persisted ever since. Many modern-day lineages first appeared during the Jurassic period, when the major groups of dinosaurs appeared too.

Lead scientist on the study, Professor Alfried Vogler from Imperial College London's Department of Life Sciences and the Natural History Museum's Department of Entomology, explains: "The large number of beetle species existing today could very well be a direct result of this early evolution and the fact that there has been a very high rate of survival and continuous diversification of many lineages since then."

The team behind the new study - the most extensive of its kind to date - used DNA sequencing and fossil records to compile a comprehensive evolutionary 'family tree' for beetles. By comparing DNA sequences from 1,880 beetle species, the scientists were able to group beetle species that are descended from a common ancestor, enabling them to build an evolutionary tree for all the species included. Fossils of known ages were then used to date key moments of evolution and diversification on the tree.

Prior to this study the survival success of beetles had been attributed to herbivory - feeding on plants - and the rise of flowering plants in the Cretaceous era, which started some 140 million years ago. However, mapping species numbers onto the evolutionary tree shows that many modern beetle lineages significantly pre-date the appearance of the first flowering plants.

Beetles have displayed an exceptional ability to seize new ecological opportunities and develop a great range of life styles and feeding types, explains Professor Vogler. "Unlike the dinosaurs which dwindled to extinction, beetles survived because of their ecological diversity and adaptability," he says.

The scientific team says that understanding the evolution of beetles is an important part of understanding the natural world: "With beetles forming such a large proportion of all known species, learning about their relationships and evolution gives us important new insights into the origin of biodiversity and how beetles have triumphed over the course of nearly 300 million years," said Professor Vogler.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Imperial College London
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Squirrels Use Snake Scent
Davis CA (SPX) Dec 20, 2007
California ground squirrels and rock squirrels chew up rattlesnake skin and smear it on their fur to mask their scent from predators, according to a new study by researchers at UC Davis. Barbara Clucas, a graduate student in animal behavior at UC Davis, observed ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) and rock squirrels (Spermophilus variegates) applying snake scent to themselves by picking up pieces of shed snakeskin, chewing it and then licking their fur.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • 16 dead in Tajikistan avalanche
  • Progress solid on Indonesian tsunami reconstruction: donors
  • A Gizmo That Saves Lives
  • Death toll from Tropical Storm Olga rises to at least 40

  • El Nino Affected By Global Warming
  • Elevated Carbon Dioxide Changes Soil Microbe Mix Below Plants
  • Analysis: What did Bali achieve
  • Drought hits over a million people in southern China: report

  • Lockheed Martin Awarded Contract For GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper
  • Study Shows Urban Sprawl Continues To Gobble Up Land
  • ASU Researchers Use NASA Satellites To Improve Pollution Modeling
  • Outside View: Russia's new sats -- Part 2

  • Analysis: Caspian ecology
  • Analysis: China's fuel oil reserves
  • Commentary: CHIMEA no chimera
  • Analysis: Eye on Novorossiisk

  • 14 African nations face meningitis epidemic: Red Cross
  • Jordan on alert for bird flu
  • Botulism bacteria found in green beans
  • Sea cucumber protein used to fight malaria

  • Model Connects Circuit Theory To Wildlife Corridors
  • Study: Giraffes are more than one species
  • African giraffes highly endangered: study
  • Evolutionary Study Shows Beetles Are Life's 6-Legged Survivors

  • Kashmir lake tourist jewel has become 'cesspool': report
  • Indian authorities say probing mysterious fish deaths
  • Biochip Mimics The Body To Reveal Toxicity Of Industrial Compounds
  • Heavy Traffic Makes Breathing A Burden In Children

  • Evolution Tied To Earth Movement
  • Maternal Grandparents More Involved In The Lives Of Their Grandchildren
  • Monkeys Can Perform Mental Addition
  • Researchers Reveal The Biology Of Shivering

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement