Butterflies can be much more ancient creatures than people think — it's a new study fossil specimens, perfectly preserved in amber. The earliest known butterfly fossils paleontologists have an age of 40-50 million years old. But an analysis of five unique pieces of amber suggests that butterflies were fluttering around more dinosaurs that became extinct 65 million years ago.
The pieces of amber from the Dominican Republic contain beautifully preserved butterflies extinct by now. However, comparing this view (Voltinia dramba) with its closest relative, now living in Mexico, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution (USA) found that the two species split 40-50 million years ago. This means that the largest family of butterflies had already existed, and therefore, the butterflies have appeared earlier. How much earlier, scientists do not know, they themselves would like to find out whether the butterflies coexisted with dinosaurs.
The age of the analyzed samples of amber is estimated at 15-25 million years old. But the theory of formation of the Caribbean islands and the distribution of butterflies in this family allowed the researchers to find out when the two species split. Their separation has caused the movement of the island of Hispaniola — and it happened 40-50 million years ago.
Battery News, 22.03.2004 11:48