Saturday, 15 November 2014

Insects were first to fly

Ancient ancestors of today's dragonflies were the first to develop wings

Insects were the first type of living creature to develop wings and learn to fly new research shows.

"Our research shows that insects originated at the same time as the earliest land-based plants, about 480 million years ago," Director of CSIRO's Australian National Insect Collection and one of the authors on the paper David Yeates said.

"Then, about 400 million years ago, ancient ancestors of today's dragonflies and mayflies were the first to develop wings - giving them the ability to fly long before any other animal could do so.

"This was at about the same time that land-based plants developed height, showing they were able to rapidly adapt to their changing environment.

The findings also confirm that while biodiversity crises led to mass extinction events in many other groups, such as dinosaurs, insects continued to survive and diversify by quickly adapting to new situations and opportunities that arose.

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