Ancient mosquito fossil has traces of the bugs last blood meal

Oct 16, 2013
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Ancient mosquito fossil has traces of the bugs last blood meal

A group of researchers have discovered fossilized mosquito that is a first for the scientific community and sounds like something out of Jurassic Park. The researchers discovered a mosquito fossil that has traces of its last blood meal still in its abdomen. Prior to this discovery, fossils that were suspected to have been bloodsucking insects had been discovered but there was no direct evidence of blood in the fossilized remains.

Scientists have determined that those bugs sucked blood based on their anatomy or blood-borne parasites in the gut of the fossilized bugs. A fossilized mosquito discovered by a team led by Dale Greenwalt from the US National Museum of Natural History discovered a fossilized mosquito and found that it contains molecules providing strong evidence of blood feeding among ancient insects as old is 46 million years.

Greenwalt said:

The abdomen of a blood-engorged mosquito is like a balloon ready to burst. It is very fragile. The chances that it wouldn’t have disintegrated prior to fossilization were infinitesimally small.

Rather than being discovered encased in amber, as was the case in the film Jurassic Park, Greenwalt and his team discovered their fossilized bugs in shale sediments in Montana. The scientists also notes that any DNA in the blood would have degraded a long time ago. However, other molecules can survive in the fossilized remains.

The team have already discovered traces of iron and an organic molecule called porphyrin in the fossilized remains. Both of those materials are components of hemoglobin. The scientists also noted that a fossilized male mosquito, which does not drink blood, was found in the same area, and of the same age lacked those molecules in its gut.

SOURCE: Nature


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