Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Will Beetles Inherit The Earth? Evolutionary Study Reveals Their Long-term Success

Date:
December 26, 2007
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Most modern-day groups of beetles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have been diversifying ever since, says new research in Science. Beetles have displayed an exceptional ability to seize new ecological opportunities and develop a great range of life styles and feeding types.

A small sample of the approximately 350,000 species of beetles on Earth.
Credit: iStockphoto/Hernan Pardo

Most modern-day groups of beetles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have been diversifying ever since, says new research.

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 this 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.

This research is published in the journal Science December 21 2007.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Will Beetles Inherit The Earth? Evolutionary Study Reveals Their Long-term Success." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071220140810.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2007, December 26). Will Beetles Inherit The Earth? Evolutionary Study Reveals Their Long-term Success. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071220140810.htm
Imperial College London. "Will Beetles Inherit The Earth? Evolutionary Study Reveals Their Long-term Success." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071220140810.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins