The history of insects living on the open ocean tracked with the history of the currents they ride

The open oceans are harsh and hostile environments where insects might not be expected to thrive. In fact, only one insect group, ocean skaters, or water striders, has adapted to life on the open seas.

How these insects evolved to conquer the high seas, however, was not known.

Now, a study of the genetics of skaters by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego provides a clue. The answer has to do with when major currents in the eastern Pacific Ocean came into existence with each species of skater evolving to match the unique conditions of those currents.