Amber Preserves Earliest Pollination Clue

Amber Preserves Earliest Pollination Clue

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Amber from 100-million-year-old deposits in Northern Spain has preserved and revealed the first ever record of insect pollination, scientists say. Specimens of tiny insects covered with pollen grains in two pieces of Cretaceous era amber are the first record of pollen transport and social behavior in this group of animals, researchers said. The amber featured inclusions of thysanopterans, also known as thrips, a group of tiny insects of less than 2 millimeters in length that feed on pollen and other plant tissue.

Researchers have determined the pollen is from a kind of cycad or ginkgo tree, a kind of living fossil of which only a few species are known to science. “This is the oldest direct evidence for pollination, and the only one from the age of the dinosaurs,” said Carmen Soriano, who led the investigation at the ESRF.

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