Chenyang Cai

This beetle had a head full of pollen for 99 million years

While examining a boganiid beetle preserved inside a piece of amber for 99 million years, researchers found a welcome surprise: flecks of pollen collected inside the hairy pocket at the base of the insect’s jaws. The pollen likely came from a cycad, a prehistoric fernlike plant with a thick trunk and pineapple-shaped cones, the scientists report yesterday in Current Biology. Though the beetle has long been suspect No. 1 for shuttling pollen from male to female cycads, the new specimen, found in Myanmar, significantly strengthens the case, The New York Times reports. Researchers hope to use the beetle to investigate the ancient relationship between pollinators and plants some 250 million years ago, long before flowering plants appeared and dinosaurs still walked the planet.

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