Aquatic and Land Animal Diversity

Aquatic and Land Arthropods

Does a connection exist between early flowering plants and insects?

Yes, bat-eating spiders live everywhere in the world except Antarctica. About 90 percent of these invertebrates live in the warmer regions of the globe and include some web-building spider species such as the Argiope savignyl and a tarantula species Poecilotheria rufilata; both are known to capture and kill small bats. Some tropical orb-weaving spiders—with a leg span of 4 to 6 inches (10–15 centimeters)—catch bats in webs that can reach 5 feet (16.5 meters) in diameter. Still other spiders have been seen capturing and killing a small bat, such as the huntsman spider (Heteropoda ventoria) in India. But they are not the only creatures the spiders eat—some larger species have also been known to capture and eat fish, frogs, and even snakes and mice.

Yes, a connection is possible. Early flowering plants—although a debate is still up as to when they first arose, from 140 to 190 million years ago to 215 million years ago—are thought to be connected to the rise of insects. Modern insects such as bees and wasps rely on flowers for pollen and nectar, and if the plants evolved 215 million years ago, it may be why both became very successful on land. (For more about early plants, see the chapter “Plant Diversity.”)


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