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Bees hit with mass extinction along with dinosaurs at end of Cretaceous



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A non-dino paper in PLoS ONE that may be of interest:

Sandra M. Rehanl, Remko Leys & Michael P. Schwarz (2013
First Evidence for a Massive Extinction Event Affecting Bees Close to
the K-T Boundary.
PLoS ONE 8(10): e76683.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076683
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0076683


Bees and eudicot plants both arose in the mid-late Cretaceous, and
their co-evolutionary relationships have often been assumed as an
important element in the rise of flowering plants. Given the
near-complete dependence of bees on eudicots we would expect that
major extinction events affecting the latter would have also impacted
bees. However, given the very patchy distribution of bees in the
fossil record, identifying any such extinctions using fossils is very
problematic. Here we use molecular phylogenetic analyses to show that
one bee group, the Xylocopinae, originated in the mid-Cretaceous,
coinciding with the early radiation of the eudicots. Lineage through
time analyses for this bee subfamily show very early diversification,
followed by a long period of seemingly no radiation and then followed
by rapid diversification in each of the four constituent tribes. These
patterns are consistent with both a long-fuse model of radiation and a
massive extinction event close to the K-T boundary. We argue that
massive extinction is much more plausible than a long fuse, given the
historical biogeography of these bees and the diversity of ecological
niches that they occupy. Our results suggest that events near the K-T
boundary would have disrupted many plant-bee relationships, with major
consequences for the subsequent evolution of eudicots and their
pollinators.


News Story:

http://phys.org/news/2013-10-bees-underwent-massive-extinction-dinosaurs.html