A Jurassic dipteran pollinator with an extremely long proboscis
Abstract In the course of evolution, mutualism between pollinators and plants was likely first developed between insects and gymnosperms, since the occurrence of long-proboscid Mecoptera, Neuroptera and Diptera predates the diversification of flowering plants in the Early Cretaceous by at least 60 million years. Here we report one of the most advanced pre-angiosperm pollinator, the Late Jurassic acrocerid fly Archocyrtus kovalevi (Nartshuk, 1996). Re-examination of the holotype specimen has shown that A. kovalevi had an extremely long siphonate proboscis (12 mm) almost twice the length of its body. Relatively, this kind of mouthpart was the longest of all long-proboscid Mesozoic insects hitherto. While long-proboscid species of extant Acroceridae are known as pollinators of long-tubular flowers with long corolla tubes, we hypothesize that A. kovalevi pollinated bisexual bennettitalean cones such as Williamsoniella karataviensis Tur.-Ket., 1963 from the same deposits.