quote:Butterflies Forty Million Years Before Butterflies Posted Thu, 02/4/2016
Kalligrammatid lacewing (left) and modern owl butterfly (right). Credit: James DiLoreto, Smithsonian
There’s a group of fossils insects that look really quite a lot like butterflies. They had broad wings with scales and pigmented eyespots. Their mouthparts were long probing straws. They likely fed from plants and pollinated them in return. They’re as butterfly-esque as it’s possible to be.
Except these creatures were flying around between 40 and 85 million years before the first butterflies existed.
They were kalligrammatid lacewings, and they were doing butterflies before butterflies even were a thing. Their resemblance is a coincidence, an extraordinary example of convergent evolution, the process two groups turn up to life’s party accidentally wearing the same outfits.