News of the WeekENTOMOLOGY

Earth's Unbounded Beetlemania Explained

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 501-503
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.501b

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The 330,000-odd species in the order Coleoptera--the beetles--far exceed the number in any other plant or animal group, and on page 555 an evolutionary entomologist hands the credit for this diversity to the beetles' own fondness for a leafy diet. His research shows that the appearance of flowering plants some 100 million years ago set leaf-eating beetles on speciation's fast track as the first "colonizers" of a new, unoccupied land, in what he calls "a classic case of coevolution."