Cockroaches not only disgust most people, but they are also one of those insects that everybody knows just a little bit about. For example, many people claim that cockroaches can survive nuclear explosions, and other seemingly life ending scenarios. Or sometimes we hear about cockroaches growing to dog-sized proportions. One of the most common misconceptions about cockroaches is that they are the oldest types of insects. It is true that cockroaches have existed on this planet for a very long time, but they are nowhere near as old as some folks think they are.

Cockroaches are certainly not three hundred million years old, and they are likely not even two hundred million years old. In fact, the oldest fossil species of cockroach has been dated back to one hundred and twenty five to one hundred and forty five million years ago. The Valditermes brennae and Cretaholocompsa montsecana are the two oldest species of roach known to man. These roaches first appeared during the final stages of the jurassic period. The widespread confusion concerning roach evolution likely came from reports telling about three hundred million year “cockroach like fossils.” Although these ancient fossilized creatures may resemble modern roaches in some respects, they are not actually cockroaches. These roach like fossils are referred to as “roachoid” fossils, and many probably assume that the term “roachoid” means the same thing as “cockroach”. Roachoid fossils could, on the other hand, mark the beginning of many forms of insect life today, but not just cockroaches.

With the exception of a few super-old roach fossils, most fossilized cockroaches have been dated back to forty to fifty million years ago. According to researchers, the oldest cockroaches that are still alive today likely began to thrive after the extinction of the dinosaurs. This is not to say that cockroaches did not exist as far back as the jurassic period, but those early cockroaches have long since become extinct.

Were you under the impression that cockroaches existed three hundred million years ago? If so, do you now question your knowledge concerning other types of insects?


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