Bees originated on an ancient supercontinent, Gondwana, more than 120 million years ago, and diversified and spread faster than previously believed. Their point of origin was in western Gondwana, which included present-day Africa and South America. The study provides insight into the evolutionary history of bees and their geographic expansion.
- Bees evolved on an ancient supercontinent, Gondwana, over 120 million years ago.
- The study, led by Washington State University researchers, reconstructed bee evolution, estimated their antiquity, and identified their geographic expansion.
- The point of origin for bees was in western Gondwana, which included Africa and South America at that time.
- The research utilized genetic analysis of over 200 bee species and compared them with traits from 185 bee fossils and extinct species.
- Bees likely originated from wasps and transitioned from predators to collectors of nectar and pollen.
- Their point of origin was in arid regions of western Gondwana during the early Cretaceous period.
- Bees moved north as continents formed, diversified, and spread, often in partnership with angiosperms (flowering plants).
- The study shows that bees colonized India and Australia and split into major bee families prior to the Tertiary period, around 65 million years ago.
- Bees played a significant role in the rich flora of the western hemisphere's tropical regions, aiding in the diversity of flowering plants.
- The study contributes to understanding bee conservation and ecological roles in modern niches.
- The research team plans to continue studying the genetics and history of more bee species to uncover more about their evolution and ecological significance.