The Joshua tree and the yucca moth

How a Tree and Its Moth Shaped the Mojave Desert

The partnership between the Joshua tree and the yucca moth may be key to understanding how plants and insects co-evolve

By Sam Schipani
August 10, 2017

Flowering plants only appear in the fossil record around 100 million years ago, and yet they comprise 90 percent of the plant kingdom. Meanwhile, around 75 percent of known animal species are insects. In Origin of Species, Charles Darwin put forth an explanation for this stunning diversity: pollination. Plants and their insect pollinators, he surmised, must evolve in conjunction with one another in a process he coined “co-evolution” until they blossom into a dazzling array of forms…