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Re: Cretaceous Butterflies?

So maybe the butterfly in Ray Bradbury's time travel story, _A Sound of
Thunder_, wasn't an anachronism after all.  Read the story at:
http://www.sba.muohio.edu/snavely/415/thunder.htm.  The feature film
version -- which will require a considerable amount of fleshing out! -- 
opens in the US on August 20, 2004.  See

"Dino Guy" Ralph W. Miller III
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
proud member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Richard W. Travsky" <rtravsky@uwyo.edu>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 1:54 PM
Subject: Cretaceous Butterflies?

> link has pictures
> http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994789
> Butterflies may be far more ancient creatures than previously believed,
> reveals a new study of fossil specimens exquisitely preserved in amber.
> The oldest known butterflies fossilised in rocks suggest the winged
> insects date back to about 40 or 50 million years ago. But evidence from
> the five stunning amber specimens now suggests it is possible butterflies
> may have even fluttered around the heads of dinosaurs, which were wiped
> out 65 million years ago.
> The amber pieces come from the Dominican Republic and each contains a
> perfectly preserved metalmark butterfly, which is now extinct. "It was
> just incredible," says Robert Robbins, one of the researchers at the
> Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, US. "It's no different than if
> you took a modern day butterfly and put it under a light microscope."
> But it is Voltinia dramba's relationship to its closest living relative in
> Mexico which gives vital clues to the evolution of butterflies.
> "It would appear it diverged from its closest living relative almost ago
> [40 to 50 million years] ago," Robbins told New Scientist. "That would
> mean that the major families of butterfly already existed, so it would
> appear butterflies are somewhat older than that."
> The evolution of many animal groups took off after mass extinctions
> annihilated the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period. "It means
> the precursors of butterflies were already there. Whether butterflies
> actually existed in the Cretaceous is a pretty interesting question," he
> says.
> ...
> Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (DOI:
> 10.1098/rspb.2004.2691)