"By looking at the fossil history of the group, we can see that extinction, or rather lack of extinction may be just as important, if not more important, than origination," Dena Smith, lead author and curator of invertebrate paleontology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, said in a statement. "Perhaps we should be focusing more on why beetles are so resistant to extinction."
Smith and her research group looked back at beetles' beginnings 284 million years ago, examining their evolution in the fossil record up until now. By analyzing 5,553 beetle species, they found that very few family groups of beetles have ever gone extinct. The extinction rate was among the lowest ever calculated. In fact, the largest beetle subgroup (Polyphaga) has never had a single family go extinct in its entire evolutionary record.
Beetles might not be alone in this resilience -- Dena and her colleagues believe that other insect groups may show similar records if they're examined as closely -- but they're almost certainly at the top of the anti-extinction heap. They're incredibly resilient, able to survive in a variety of habitats and on lots of different food sources, so it isn't surprising that they're so good at adapting to environmental changes.