Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jurassic Butterlfy: Evolutionary Match!

Recent evidence shows that an insect resembling the modern day butterfly existed in the Jurassic age. It’s believed these Jurassic butterflies date back 40 million years and behaved in a similar manner as butterflies do now such as facilitating reproduction among flowers. A study led by Smithsonian curator Conrad  Labandeira discovered a fossil of the insect in lake deposits in northeastern China and eastern Kazakhstan. These fossils shared many physical similarities with the modern day butterfly.

 The structure of the Jurassic butterfly’s longue tongue indicates that it served the same physiological purpose as modern day butterflies, to access the nectar deep in the plant. Also from the fossil, scientists were able to determine the ancient insect also had hairy legs which may have been used for carrying pollen from male flowers to female flowers. The ancient butterfly had markings on their wings similar to the ones we see today. This means they share the same defense mechanisms, using designs to deceive and intimidate their predators.

These species of butterflies are a great example of convergent evolution. These two species of butterflies are so distantly related, yet they independently evolve similar traits such as the patterns on their wings. This could mean the two species adapted to similar environments. This gives us insight on how our planet may have looked in the past, and understanding our planet’s past is key to preserving important species on our Earth today.

Source:  Indiana University. "Discovery of 'Jurassic butterflies'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2016.
Posted by Mahder Haile (1)


  1. It would be interesting to see if butterflies today and in the jurassic age have similar predators or environments that would cause the same patterning. The species seem to have the same physiological purpose, but it is interesting to see how the patterning is evolved independently to yield a similar design.

    Dasha Agoulnik

    1. I found that interesting as well. The butterfly's defense mechanism must be so effective that it appeared millions of years later. Evolution has a funny way of working things out. As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

  2. This is so cool! I didn't even think butterflies were capable of leaving a fossil, they're so fragile and small, I guess I just assumed they'd disintegrate into the dirt/ground of wherever they happened to die. The most interesting part about these butterflies is that their legs used to have hair.. so before bees were alive/around, butterflies were responsible for pollinating the world.. that may be a far leap to make ( I'm not quite sure if there was or wasn't bees back then) but regardless, if that was the case, then you could argue that maybe butterflies could evolve to have hair on their legs once again to help the honey bees who are going extinct pollinate the flowers in our ecosystems! better yet a scientist could probably create some kind of butterfly hybrid that would have hairy legs. Still extremely cool that butterflies have recently been found to have existed way back wen dinos were still roaming the planet!

    -Kelsey Morrison

  3. My question is that i would like to know the differences and changes in the habitat of the ancient butterflies related to the existing ones to see the patterns of inheritance!

    -Michael Sheikhai