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Before flowers, odd bugs pollinated plants
Scorpionflies had tube-like snouts to slurp nectar, researchers report
By Jeanna Bryner
updated 3:17 p.m. ET, Thurs., Nov . 5, 2009
Before there were flowers, pollination of plants by insects was likely rare, and scientists had no idea of the insect culprits. But a new discovery suggests at least one flittering pollinator.
Strange-looking insects called scorpionflies may have slurped up plants' nectar-like fluids through long, tube-like snouts, well before the evolution of flowering plants and the insects that pollinate them, researchers report.
The finding could change how scientists think about pollination of plants by animals, which is thought to have evolved as flowering plants called angiosperms came onto the scene during the late Cretaceous, or about 99.6 million to 65.5 million years ago.