NPR

'Butterfly Tongues' Are More Ancient Than Flowers, Fossil Study Finds

Scientists have discovered the proboscis butterflies use to suck nectar from flowers existed before flowers did. So: What were ancient butterflies using their long, tongue-like suckers for?
A modern moth with a proboscis, the organ adapted for sucking up fluids such as nectar. Newly discovered fossil evidence suggests ancestors of such animals exists before flowering plants, raising questions about what ancient butterflies and moths used their tongue-like appendages for. Source: Hossein Rajaei

Butterfly beak. Moth mouthpiece. Lepidoptera lips.

Call it whatever you want, the proboscis is a big deal. It's a defining feature of many moths and butterflies – the long, flexible mouthpiece that dips into flowers and draws out nectar.

"The traditional idea is always [that] this proboscis — this butterfly in that upends traditional ideas about the proboscis.

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