Bee fossil found from age of dinosaurs, evolved from wasps

Fossil bees in amber

From LiveScience:

The discovery of the oldest bee fossil supports the theory that bees.evolved from wasps, scientists reported today.

The 100 million-year-old fossil was found in a mine in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar (Burma) and preserved in amber.

Amber, which begins as tree sap, often traps insects and plant structures before they fossilize.

“This is the oldest known bee we’ve ever been able to identify, and it shares some of the features of wasps,” said lead author George Poinar, a researcher from Oregon State University.

“But overall it’s more bee than wasp, and gives us a pretty good idea of when these two types of insects were separating on their evolutionary paths.”

The quarter-inch fossil shares traits of the carnivorous wasp such as narrow hind legs while exhibiting branched hairs on its leg, a characteristic of the modern bee that allows pollen collection.

Around the same time the bee was trapped, plants that rely on mechanisms other than the wind to spread their seeds, started expanding and diversifying.

Prior to that, the world was mostly green with conifer trees that depended on the wind for pollination.

Flowering plants are very important in the evolution of life,” Poinar said.

See also here.

Honeybee decline: here.

Eocene fossil bee from France: here.

Carpenter bees of Singapore: here.

How are different insects related to each other, according to DNA research? See here.

Underwanter ants of Australia: here.

Hymenoptera evolution: here.

Evolution of amoebas: here.

7 thoughts on “Bee fossil found from age of dinosaurs, evolved from wasps

  1. Genomics: On the Genome of a Social Insect.
    The transformation of an insect species from a solitary lifestyle
    to advanced colonial existence requires alterations in every
    system of the body, coupled with sufficient plasticity in the
    traits prescribed by the genes to generate strong differences
    among the adult castes. A picture of this revolution at the
    genomic level appears in new work…
    Full report at



    The following points are made by H. Glenner et al (Science 2006

    1) Although hexapods — those arthropods having six legs,
    including insects — are the most diverse group of contemporary
    animals in terms of biological niches and number of species,
    their origin is highly debated. A key problem is the almost
    complete absence of fossils that connect hexapods to the other
    major arthropod sub-phyla, namely Crustacea, Myriapoda (such as
    centipedes and millipedes), and Chelicerata (such as scorpions
    and spiders). Over the years, hexapods (insects, springtails,
    proturnas, and diplurans) have been phylogenetically linked to
    all of these major arthropod taxa (1).

    2) Traditionally, hexapods and the multi-legged myriapods have
    been united in a group named Atelocerata on the basis of
    morphological similarities between their tracheal respiration
    systems and head appendages. However, recent evidence from
    phylogenetic analyses of molecular sequence data from a variety
    of genes, as well as from newer morphological studies, points to
    a relationship between hexapods and crustaceans (2-5), a grouping
    commonly referred to as Pancrustacea. Furthermore, studies on
    neurological development in the major arthropod groups have
    pointed out similarities between the myriapods and chelicerates.
    Hence, pancrustacean monophyly seems to be gaining more support.
    So, what does this view tell us about the possible origin of

    3) The crustaceans are recorded at least as far back as the Upper
    Cambrian, about 511 million years ago, where they are found in
    marine sediments. However, except for the debated Devonohexapodus
    bocksbergensis specimen, all hexapod remains are found only in
    freshwater or terrestrial strata no earlier than the Devonian,
    around 410 million years ago. This leaves a gap of 100 million
    years to the earliest crustaceans. The common explanation has
    been that earlier traces of hexapods have been erased from the
    fossil record and that hexapods, like other major groups of
    terrestrial animals, have closely related ancestors to be found
    in the marine environment.

    4) The recent morphological and molecular-based studies suggest
    an alternative interpretation — that hexapods originated within
    the crustaceans rather than as a sister group. Although the
    morphological studies mainly favor a close phylogenetic
    connection between hexapods and malacostracan crustaceans (crabs
    and crayfish), recent molecular sequence data suggest that
    hexapods are closely related to branchiopods, a freshwater
    dwelling group of crustaceans that includes water fleas and fairy
    shrimp. This hypothesis is supported by analysis of Hox genes
    that demonstrates homology between development of the pregenital
    trunk region in insects and the thorax in branchiopods. The new
    molecular results correspond well with the fossil record and
    suggest an evolutionary origin of the hexapods in freshwater
    around 410 million years ago rather than in the marine Cambrian

    References (abridged):

    1. G. Giribet, C. Ribera, Cladistics 16, 204 (2000).

    2. J. M. Mallatt et al., Mol. Phy. Evol. 31, 178 (2004).

    3. J. C. Regier, J. W. Shultz, Mol. Phy. Evol. 20, 136 (2001).

    4. J. W. Shultz, J. C. Regier, Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B 267,
    1011 (2000).

    5. U. W. Hwang et al., Nature 413, 154 (2001).




  3. Pingback: 100 million year old mushroom with parasites discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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