Oldest insect pollination found, according to articles in ScienceDaily 14 May 2012 and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) News 16 May 2012. An international team of scientists have found fossils of tiny insects named thrips covered in pollen grains preserved in amber dated as 105 – 110 million years old from the Basque region in Spain. This makes them the oldest evidence for insect pollination.
According to ESRF “The pollen grains are very small and exhibit the adherent features needed so that insects can transport them”. They also report: “These insects exhibit highly specialised hairs with a ringed structure to increase their ability to collect pollen grains, very similar to the ones of well known pollinators like domestic bees”. The researchers believe the pollen to be from a cycad or ginkgo tree. The researchers pose the question: “For which evolutionary reason did these tiny insects collect and transport Gingko pollen 100 million years ago? Their ringed hairs cannot have grown due to an evolutionary selection benefitting the trees”. They suggest the thrips used the pollen to feed their larvae, which they kept in the female cones of cycads for ovules of ginkgo trees.
Editorial Comment: The question about why insects should evolve specialised pollen transporting hair when it is the trees that benefit is a good one. However, the suggestion about feeding their larvae does not answer it. That could only benefit the thrips, once they had hairs, and knew where to find pollen, and figured out their offspring would benefit from it. None of which explains where the genetic information for the hairs came from in the first place.
This discovery is another reminder that plants and animals were created in not only a functioning ecosystem, but a designed one in which living things mutually benefitted each other. This study also reminds us of why the day-age theory of reading Genesis 1 will not work for those who want it to, claiming each of the 6 days of creation were really millions of years long. Genesis tells us that all the plants, including the flowering and fruiting plants, were created on day Three. Yet creatures that collect and transport pollen and seeds were not made until days Five and Six. If the days were long periods of time most pollen producing plants would have died out for lack of pollinators. Genesis 1 only makes sense if you take God at His word and read it at face value. (Ref. botany, palaeontology, reproduction)
Evidence News 23 May 2012