What does a tropical honeybee have to do with evaluating the merit of a theory as to how dinosaurs became extinct?
Well, the idea that dust and smoke from an asteroid impact blocked our planet from sunlight, sending it into a years-long period of darkness and chilly temperatures, or a nuclear winter, as it’s called.
The tropical honeybee, a creature that probably requires a warm temperature in order to survive, appears to have survived the nuclear winter.
Tropical honeybees from the late Cretaceous period preserved in amber are the ancestors of modern tropical honeybees, so some must have survived the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous. Because they are so closely related, scientists can infer that the ancient bees’ survival required similar temperatures to that of modern tropical bees. The optimal temperature range for modern honeybees, as well as for their food source, nectar-rich flowering plants, is 88 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the nuclear winter was as cold as scientists have estimated, a drop of 13 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit, then no modern honeybee could have survived, which would lead one to believe that their ancestors would also have been unfit for survival in such temperatures.
However, if the drop was less than 13 degrees Fahrenheit, then the bees might have had a chance.