Wednesday, 16 May 2012

With massive dinosaurs towering above, tiny female insects called thrips had just dusted themselves with hundreds of pollen grains from a gingko tree more than 100 million years ago when they perished, only to be preserved in tree resin called amber.

The discovery, detailed this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the oldest known record of insect pollination.

(Pollination occurs when either the wind or an animal, mostly insects, deliver pollen from a plant's male reproductive organ to the female parts either on the same plant or another one.)

During the lower Cretaceous Period when the newly discovered thrips lived, flowering plants would have just started to diversify, eventually replacing conifers as the dominant species, the researchers said.

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