The world is alive with beetles!
A 2022 study by 17 biologists states, “Beetles constitute the most biodiverse animal order with over 380 000 described species and possibly several million more yet unnamed.”1
Why are there so many types of beetles? They form a large part of the world's biodiversity critical for decomposition (e.g. forests) and feed on problem insects such as caterpillars and aphids. Dung beetles fertilize the soil and increase soil aeration by making tunnels and thus improve the productivity of the land. Of course, many species devastate crops and some borers transmit fungal spores in live trees (e.g. Scotytus), decimating forests.
Where did they come from? While there is a “rich fossil record of beetles,”1 we observe no record of insects evolving into beetles. The oldest known beetle fossil was found in Germany2 and, not surprisingly, is 100% beetle. When it comes to the actual origin of beetles, the researchers stated their “molecular clock analyses suggest a Carboniferous origin of Coleoptera [beetles] and a Palaeozoic origin of all four beetle suborders.”1 Furthermore, “a Carboniferous origin of Coleoptera implies a 55–134 Ma long ‘beetle gap’ in the fossil record.”1 In other words, beetles show up complete and fully-formed in the fossil record as well-designed 3 beetles.
Some fossilized beetles have been found retaining their structural color (organic compounds) providing compelling evidence of the youth of the fossil.4
So, the fossil record shows the sudden appearance of beetles with no record of beetle ancestors, while some fossils have their original carbon-based colors.
1. Cai, C. et al. 2022. Integrated phylogenomics and fossil data illuminate the evolution of beetles. Royal Society Open Science. 9: 211771.
2. Kirejtshuk, G. et al. 2014. Evolution of the elytral venation and structural adaptations in the oldest Palaeozoic beetles. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 12 (5): 575–600.
3. Sherwin, F. Beetle mouth-gears shout design. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org March 12, 2019.
4. McNamara, M. et al. 2011. The original colours of fossil beetles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 279 (1731): 1114–1121. See also: Sherwin, F. 2020. Amber Insect Fossils Still Glow. Acts & Facts. 49 (9).
*Dr. Sherwin is Research Scientist at the Institute for Creation Research. He earned an M.A. in zoology from the University of Northern Colorado and received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Pensacola Christian College.
No Sign of Beetle Evolution
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