From BBC News (UK): Scientists have identified the oldest known bee (Melittosphex burmensis), a 100 million-year-old specimen preserved in amber.
The discovery coincides with the publication of the genetic blueprint of the honeybee, which reveals surprising links with mammals and humans.
The ancient insect, trapped in tree sap, is at least 35-45 million years older than any other known bee fossil.
It appears to share features with both bees and wasps, and supports theories of bee evolution.
Experts believe pollen-dependent bees arose from carnivorous wasp ancestors. With the arrival of pollinating bees, flowering plants blossomed on Earth. Prior to 100 million years ago, the plant world was dominated by conifers which spread their seeds on the wind.
George Poinar (homepage), professor of zoology at Oregon State University, US, whose team reported their discovery in the journal Science, said: “This is the oldest known bee we’ve ever been able to identify, and it shares some of the features of wasps.
Continued at “Bee fossil, DNA generate a buzz”
Based on the journal Science paper “A Fossil Bee from Early Cretaceous Burmese Amber” (Abstract)
John Latter / Jorolat