Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Life’s six-legged survivors – evolutionary study shows beetles are in it for the long run

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 (Friday 21 December 2007).

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 today’s 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.

Danielle Reeves | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>