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Aphid

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Aphids, and the closely related adelgids and phylloxerans, probably evolved from a common ancestor some 280 million years ago, in the Early Permian period. They probably fed on plants like Cordaitales or Cycadophyta. With their soft bodies, aphids do not fossilize well, and the oldest known fossil is of the species Triassoaphis cubitus from the Triassic. They do however sometimes get stuck in plant exudates which solidify into amber. In 1967, when Professor Ole Heie wrote his monograph Studies on Fossil Aphids, about sixty species have been described from the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous and mostly the Tertiary periods, with Baltic amber contributing another forty species. The total number of species was small, but increased considerably with the appearance of the angiosperms 160 million years ago, as this allowed aphids to specialise, the speciation of aphids going hand-in-hand with the diversification of flowering plants. The earliest aphids were probably polyphagous, with monophagy developing later. It has been hypothesized that the ancestors of the Adelgidae lived on conifers while those of the Aphididae fed on the sap of Podocarpaceae or Araucariaceae that survived extinctions in the late Cretaceous. Organs like the cornicles did not appear until the Cretaceous period. One study alternatively suggests that ancestral aphids may have lived on angiosperm bark and that feeding on leaves may be a derived trait. The Lachninae have long mouth parts that are suitable for living on bark and it has been suggested that the mid-Cretaceous ancestor fed on the bark of angiosperm trees, switching to leaves of conifer hosts in the late Cretaceous. The Phylloxeridae may well be the oldest family still extant, but their fossil record is limited to the Lower Miocene Palaeophylloxera.

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