Scientists have found the oldest butterfly or moth fossils

Butterflies and moths, the Lepidoptera, are among the most beautiful of insects, familiar to almost everyone through thousands of different species from all around the world. But how they evolved has been something of a mystery to scientists because of a surprising lack of Lepidoptera fossils.

Now researchers in the Netherlands have discovered Lepidoptera fossils that are older than any previously found, proving these familiar insects have been around for at least 200m years. The particular type of fossils found mean we have to rethink Lepidoptera evolution. They imply that the long tube butterflies and moths use to suck nectar from flowers actually developed before flowering plants did, so it must have originally evolved for a different purpose.

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