Insects were the first creatures to fly: study

An evolutionary insect family tree created by a team of 100 researchers revealed that insects were the first creatures to fly around 400 million years ago.

The comprehensive insect family tree covering insects from all around the globe was created as part of a project called 1K Insect Transcriptome Evolution (1KITE).

According to researchers involved in the 1KITE project, insects came into existence around 500 million years ago, around the same time when plants started to emerge on Earth's surface. And, it was roughly 406 million years ago, in the early part of Devonian era, when insects got wings and started flying.

Researcher Michelle Trautwein, of the California Academy of Sciences, said that a clear picture of insects' evolution and how they started fly eluded scientists, but modern sequencing techniques enabled them to examine enormous amounts of genetic data, filling gaps in their knowledge.

Speaking on the topic, Trautwein said, "Modern sequencing techniques have enabled us to examine enormous amounts of genetic data, and now for the first time, the gaps in our knowledge can be filled. We are now getting closer to solving evolution's mysteries of life than we have ever been."

The researchers reached the conclusion after analyzing some 1,478 genes taken from 144 species of insects. However, Trautwein acknowledged that it was still unclear how insects evolved from their origins of metamorphosis into flying.

Michelle Trautwein