Analysis confirms many relationships, rethinks dragonflies, doubts dino lice
Oliver Niehuis/ ZFMK, Bonn
By analyzing a locust swarm of data —1,478 genes from each of 144 kinds of insects and their relatives —a worldwide research team has reconstructed the tale of how insects arose and took over the Earth.
The first insects may have appeared as early as 479 million years ago, 101 members of the 1KITE (1,000 Insect Transcriptome Evolution) collaboration report in the Nov. 7 Science.
Insects eventually became the first animals to fly, taking off about 406 million years ago, the researchers calculate. Since then, branching and twigging of the genealogical tree of the six-legged creatures has produced today’s wild diversity of form and lifestyle among 32 major groups, or orders: silverfish, beetles, termites, butterflies, glacier-prowling predators called ice crawlers, the enigmatic order called “twisted wing parasites” and so on.
1KITE focused on getting the most possible genetic