Insects Made History 400M Years Ago
They were first to grow wings, rule the skies
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2014 4:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Want human beings to feel a massive ego-boost? Then look elsewhere, because a ground-breaking study published by Science finds that insects ruled the Earth about 400 million years ago and grew wings long before any other animal, reports Heritage Daily. They cropped up as plants began diversifying, in fact, and in short order created most of the major insect groups still flying today, notes Wired. So which one came first? Insects resembling today's silverfish existed roughly 480 million years ago, an expert tells Tech Times: "Then, about 400 million years ago, ancient ancestors of today's dragonflies and mayflies were the first to develop wings," he says. More on the study:

  • Lice came relatively recently, cropping up about 53 million years ago (when modern mammals and birds came around). So primates are actually older than those little guys.
  • By the evolutionary clock, insects diversified quickly. Consider that plants colonized Earth over the past 450 million years; well, insects needed just 80 million years to take over the skies and form most of their major groups.
  • Led by a group in China, the study solicited genetic data from more than 100 insect specialists around the world and crunched it all with a supercomputer. This leapfrogged the fairly slow pace at which experts were analyzing insect subsets on their own.
  • The study created the first-ever thorough evolutionary tree for insects, notes LiveScience.
For more on insects, read about parasites that suck on mosquitoes' blood.
 

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