U.S. locusts related to African locusts

December 21, 2005

A DNA study has linked the genetic lineage of Western Hemisphere insects to African desert locusts.

Researchers theorize about 3 million to 5 million years ago a massive swarm of locusts left Africa, flew across the Atlantic Ocean and colonized the New World.

Using genetic evidence from more than 20 species of locusts, scientists from the Universities of Toronto, Arizona, and Maryland; Cornell University; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture believe their theory explains why the closest relatives of the African desert locust are found in the New World, rather than Africa.

Nathan Lovejoy of the University of Toronto and co-author of the study said it's unclear how the locusts made the trans-Atlantic flight, since they don't have the capability to power a trip lasting several days.

"One unlikely hypothesis is that while the locusts were flying across, as their brethren died and landed in the ocean, they formed huge floating mats of dead locusts," says Lovejoy. "The other locusts would land on these mats, rest and feed on the dead bodies, then take off and keep flying."

The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.