Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Honeybees - Past and Present

News (or buzz) came out almost simultaneously of two discoveries involving that indispensable insect, the honeybee.
First, the genetic blueprint of the honeybee was published. Only three other insects have had their genomes sequenced so far. Among the surprises: two genetically distinct European bee populations are more closely related to African bees than to each other.
Second, a tiny (3mm) amber-preserved specimen 100 million years old was identified as the earliest known bee. Melittosphex burmensis came from a mine in Burma's Hukawng Valley. The ancient insect showed features supporting the idea that bees were then in the process of descending from a wasp ancestor.

Thanks (as usual) to Kris for this item.

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