Butterflies first originated in North America or Central America

First butterflies originated about a hundred million years ago a study published by says, in what is now western North America or Central America, from where they spread throughout the world Nature Ecology and Evolution,

a large group of scientists, with spanish partnershipreconstructed the butterfly tree of life by collecting DNA from over 2,300 species from 90 countries, representing all families and 92% of genera.

Butterflies emerged at the end of the Cretaceous And they ate legumes for the first time, indicates the team, which is made up of scientists from, among others, the Botanical Institute of Barcelona and the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Pompeu Fabra University).

research indicates that Native to the Americas, especially in what is now western North America or Central America And, although evidence points to a North American origin, it “is not convincing,” the study adds.

about 100 million years ago, A group of kites started flying during the day instead of at nightTaking advantage of nectar-rich flowers, they co-evolved with bees, from which all butterflies evolved.

Scientists have known the exact moment since 2019, when a large-scale analysis of DNA rejected the previous hypothesis that Bat pressure fueled the evolution of butterflies After the extinction of the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.

the root of all this data is eleven rare butterfly fossilsWithout which the analysis would not have been possible, as these animals, with paper-thin wings and thread-like hair, are rarely preserved in the fossil record.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, which coordinated the research, the results tell a dynamic story, plagued by rapid variations, stalling progress and unlikely dispersal.

expansion all over the world

Some groups “traveled impossibly vast distances, while others seem to have stayed in one place.”stationary while the continents, mountains and rivers revolved around them”, adds the museum.

At that time, North America was split in two by a long sea route, while present-day Mexico was connected in a long arc with the United States, Canada, and Russia.

North and South America were not yet connected by the Isthmus of Panama, but butterflies did not have much difficulty crossing the strait that separated them.

Butterflies entered Asia via the Bering land bridge and spread rapidly to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa. They even reached India, which was an isolated island miles away from the open ocean.

Even then “most surprising” was his arrival in AustraliaWhich remained connected to Antarctica, the last united remnant of the supercontinent Pangaea.

They could have lived in Antarctica when temperatures were warmer, before the separation of the two continents carried the northern tip of the continent to Australia.

late arrival in europe

Farther north, the butterflies continued to reach as far west as Asia 45 million years before migration to Europe And although the reason for this prolonged pause is unclear, its effects are still evident today, explained Akito Kawahara, lead author of the research from the Florida Museum of Natural History (USA), in a statement.

There are not many species of butterflies in Europe compared to other parts of the world and can often be found in other places such as Siberia and Asia.

Today there are about 19,000 species of butterfliesAnd to reconstruct its history, information on its modern distribution and its host plants was needed, data that in many cases did not exist centrally, so researchers had to create their own databases.


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