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Re: Jurassic butterflies

Very cool.  The purpose of the eye-spots was to deter or deceive
predators - presumably pterosaurs and small theropods (including early
birds).  Kalligrammatids were quite large by insect standards (body
length > 50 mm), likely poor fliers, and often loaded with sweet
pollen; so they were probably vulnerable to predators.

More info here:


On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 10:56 AM, Richard W. Travsky <rtravsky@uwyo.edu> wrote:
> Don't think I've seen this mentioned; it's pretty cool.
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__&d=CwIDaQ&c=clK7kQUTWtAVEOVIgvi0NU5BOUHhpN0H8p7CSfnc_gI&r=x82f3Wlkwtmbr1z8IAt9jA&m=ZIhQjDIJ2HeC0exZT1zQcsDeHIR3rnMsGks4c55ZSTs&s=qj1MClMZPIT-XCI4PTrTW0odSHddsUD68WLcixo6Ybo&e=
> rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1824/20152893
> The evolutionary convergence of mid-Mesozoic lacewings and Cenozoic
> butterflies
> Abstract
> Mid-Mesozoic kalligrammatid lacewings (Neuroptera) entered the fossil record
> 165 million years ago (Ma) and disappeared 45 Ma later. Extant papilionoid
> butterflies (Lepidoptera) probably originated 80–70 Ma, long after
> kalligrammatids became extinct. Although poor preservation of kalligrammatid
> fossils previously prevented their detailed morphological and ecological
> characterization, we examine new, well-preserved, kalligrammatid fossils
> from Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous sites in northeastern China to
> unravel a surprising array of similar morphological and ecological features
> in these two, unrelated clades. We used polarized light and epifluorescence
> photography, SEM imaging, energy dispersive spectrometry and time-of-flight
> secondary ion mass spectrometry to examine kalligrammatid fossils and their
> environment. We mapped the evolution of specific traits onto a
> kalligrammatid phylogeny and discovered that these extinct lacewings
> convergently evolved wing eyespots that possibly contained melanin, and wing
> scales, elongate tubular proboscides, similar feeding styles, and seed–plant
> associations, similar to butterflies. Long-proboscid kalligrammatid
> lacewings lived in ecosystems with gymnosperm–insect relationships and
> likely accessed bennettitalean pollination drops and pollen. This system
> later was replaced by mid-Cretaceous angiosperms and their insect
> pollinators.