Identifying the origin of the fly

March 23, 2011
Identifying the origin of the fly
The Blowfly: Flies originated in wet environments and as they evolved they adapted to feed in almost any nutrient-rich substrate, becoming adapted to almost any environment on earth. (David McClenaghan, CSIRO)

(PhysOrg.com) -- Some may think that the mosquito and the house fly are worlds apart when it comes to common ancestry but new research published this week by an international team of scientists puts them much closer together in evolutionary history.

According to a paper published in the of the USA, the mosquito branched off the same evolutionary tree as the house fly around 220 million years ago.

Though just a few species of flies gain public attention as pests – namely: house flies, March flies and – there are 152,000 named species of flies, representing around 10 per cent of all species on Earth.

The March fly branched off some 175 million years ago, while the common house fly branched off about 50 million years ago.

Flies originated in wet environments and as they evolved they adapted to feed in almost any nutrient-rich substrate in almost any environment on earth.

“What this research shows us is that the Fly Tree of Life went through three periods of fast diversification, with many different groups experimenting with ways to be a fly,” says one of the paper’s co-authors, Dr David Yeates from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

“The mosquito, March fly and common house fly are everyday members of these bursts of evolution, which occurred during unstable periods of Earth’s history when dramatic environmental change created new habitats for these ‘experimental’ flies. 

“The really interesting thing is that living representatives of these early branching groups, such as mosquitoes and March flies, are still with us.

“This research provides an evolutionary framework for future comparative work on species that are critically important to both society and science,” Dr Yeates said.

The research was conducted by an international consortium of 27 scientists from six countries.

Explore further: Flies are given federal protection

Related Stories

Flies are given federal protection

May 11, 2006

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended federal protection to 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies under the Endangered Species Act.

Humans, flies smell alike, neurobiologists find

March 26, 2007

The nose knows – whether it’s on a fruit fly or a human. And while it would seem that how a fruit fly judges odors should differ from how a human smells, new research from Rockefeller University finds that at the neurobiological ...

At home on a crab, with new evolutionary neighbors

April 9, 2008

The members of Drosophilidae, a family consisting of about 3000 species, are often referred to as fruit flies although most of the members feed on microbes. As microbes can be found growing on a wide range of substrates, ...

Researchers map 'fly tree of life'

March 14, 2011

Calling it the "new periodic table for flies," researchers at North Carolina State University and collaborators across the globe have mapped the evolutionary history of flies, providing a framework for further comparative ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

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.