Scientists have discovered fossils showing that butterflies were flying on Earth for at least 200 million years ago, 50 to 70 million years earlier than previously thought and, most notably, before the first flowers on our planet appeared.
The 70 microscopic ancient traces of wings, found in rocks in northern Germany, are the oldest lepidopteran fossils ever found. Thus, they shift into the distant past the appearance of Lepidoptera, a large number of insects in which the butterflies also belong.
Scientists believed that these insects, which have a microscopic proboscis and can drink the nectar of flowering plants, which at the same time pollinate, had coexisted with the flowers that appeared 130 to 140 million years ago. However, these insects appeared to have emerged much earlier, up to 75 million years before the first blossoms, about when the first dinosaurs appeared.
The researchers, headed by Dr. Bus van de Sutbrong of the Dutch University of Utrecht, published the publication in Science Advances, according to the BBC and Nature.
Lepidoptera today have spread to all continents except Antarctica. As fragile creatures, their fossils are rare.