Butterflies evolved 100 million years ago in North America

A black swallowtail butterfly

Shutterstock / KathereneS

Butterflies first fluttered onto the scene in North America about 100 million years ago, according to a genetic analysis. The findings have been used to generate a detailed butterfly family tree, giving scientists new insights into butterflies’ evolutionary origins and how they spread across the world.

“The family relationships and the history of butterflies, surprisingly, is not very well known,” says Akito Kawahara at the University of Florida.

Previous smaller-scale projects had attempted to pin down the insects’ most ancient ancestors, says Kawahara. There were also hypotheses …

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