Fossils of the oldest known insect and the world’s first plant pollinators called tillyardembiids were discovered recently in Russia. They were found along the riverbank, close to the village of Chekarda in Russia.
What are Tillyardembiids?
Tillyardembiids are earwig-like insects with flattened bodies. The specimens found in Russia were estimated to be around 280 million years old, predating the previously-known pollen-covered insects by about 120 million years. They are older than mosquitoes found in Jurassic Park, which is around 200 million years old. They had clumps of pollen on their heads, bodies and legs. These pollens were gymnosperms – a category of plants that produce seeds without flowers. Note that while flower plants evolved 250 million to 150 million years ago, they became more common only 100 million years ago.
Tillyard embiids belong to the Palezoic era
The Palezoic era dates between 541 million years ago and 252 million years ago. During this period, the fish diversified. Marine organisms were abundant. The Appalachian mountains in North America were formed during the Palezoic era. The mountains were formed due to repeated continental collisions and the retreat of seas. American and African plates collided together to form the Appalachian mountains.
The insect discovered belongs to an era when flowering plants were just emerging. Flowering plants were not common during this period. Flowering plants started appearing only during the Lower Cretaceous era, that is, about 125 million years ago. And they started diversifying only 100 million years ago. Please note that the pollens that covered the insect were from non-flowering plants.
Insect fossils found in ancient-era rocks
The rock on which the insect fossil was found is a sedimentary rock. It was under a lagoon about 280 million years ago. The fossil has travelled a long way to reach to 21st century!