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Ancient Bees May Have Been Wiped Out with the Dinosaurs

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 10:31 AM EDT
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The ancestors of modern bees may have vanished with dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a new Australian research has found.

The massive extinction in the population of bee took place in a series of events at so called K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) boundary.

The research has been carried out by biologist Professor Mike Schwarz from Flinders University and the findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“We were studying the relationship between bees in Africa, Asia and Australia. However, unlike dinosaurs that have left plentiful fossils, bees don’t fossilise well, so their presence in the fossil record is very patchy,” Schwarz said according to ABC Science. “There are large numbers of bees found in 45 million year old amber, but not much before that.”

Schwarz along with his colleagues used the genetic technique which is also known as molecular phylogenetic analysis, This analysis is to determine the evolutionary relationships of more than 200 species.

“During our study we found a peculiar genetic signature that looked like a massive extinction event,” Schwarz added according to ABC News. "There was early diversification among the family, followed by a long period in which diversity seemingly stalled.

“This was then followed by a sudden massive increase in diversity in all four bee tribes.”

The long-tongued bee family Xylocopinae are widespread and are usually found in a variety of ecological riches.

"There was a lot of climate change just before the K-T boundary that also resulted in a global loss of flowering plant species. Both would have affected pollinator numbers.

“And for plants that have a close relationship with the insects, losing their pollinators would have magnified their own loss. It was a real double whammy,” added Schwarz.

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