The first flowering plants in our world evolved only about 140 million years ago, and plants existed without flowers for a long time before that. And what we think of flowering plants it is hard not to think of pollinators. From insects and birds to animals and even wind and water, there’s a long list of pollinators. But among these who pollinated the first flowers? Researchers may have decoded that today nearly 90% of all plant species bear flowers. Most of these rely heavily on insects for pollination because they are effective due to their small size and high mobility in fact flowers have evolved to attract insects, and in return for pollination, gift them with nectar, pollen etc. Making there is a mutually beneficial relationship. A recent research studied more than 1.100 species of plants, and based on when they evolved, it mapped what pollinates a plant in the present to what might have pollinated the ancestor of that plant in the past it showed that insect pollination has been the most common, happening nearly 86% of the time, pointing to the fact that “the first flowers were most likely pollinated by insects Recent research on fossil insects suggests that a few insects may have actually been “pollinating plants even before the first flowers evolved
While it is easy to imagine bees to be the first to pollinate flowers, it is not so because bees did not evolve until after the first flowers Also, since the first flowers were small, they were most likely pollinated by a tiny creature, perhaps a fly or a beetle or some other insect that has long disappeared.
Did you know?
Pollination by vertebrate animals such as birds and bats, small mammals, and even lizards, has evolved at least 39 times- and reverted to insect pollination at least 26 of those times.
Wind pollination has evolved even more often: 42 instances these plants rarely go back to insect pollination.
Wind pollination evolved more often in open habitats at higher latitudes. Animal pollination is more common in closed-canopy rainforests, near the Equator.
Picture Credit : Google