Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Convergent Evolution, or, That's Not a Butterfly

On the left, a modern butterfly. On the right, a 150-million-year-old insect fossil. Which is not a butterfly – butterflies wouldn't evolve for another 50 million years – but a relative of modern lacewing flies. These insects seems to have lived much like modern butterflies, pollinating long-ago relatives of modern pine trees and cycads. Through the process we call convergent evolution, they ended up looking much like modern butterflies, to the "eye spots" on their wings.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

But... there are already extant creatures with eyespots that aren't butterflies nor evolved from them, such as certain fish, birds, and cats.

Is it the fact that this lacewing is a fellow insect, and therefor much more directly similar to a butterfly, that makes this somehow more remarkable than the others?