Researchers have just published an exciting find: a 46-million-year-old mosquito full of blood. Next stop “Jurassic Park”? Not so fast.
The find is really interesting because it’s the first example of blood-feeding in these ancient insects. We hadn’t had clear evidence of when this began until now.
They found the mosquito in shale sediments in Montana.
They first found the presence of iron in the female mosquito’s belly, then used a non-destructive technique to study the molecules inside the find. They were able to tell that the iron was bound in a heme molecule, the molecule that lets the molecule hemoglobin transport oxygen.
Dale Greenwalt, of the Smithsonian Institution described the find in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences on Oct. 14.
“This shows that details of a blood-sucking mosquito can be nicely preserved in a medium other than amber,” George Poinar, who studies fossilized insects at Oregon State University in Corvallis, told Nature’s Ed Yong. “It also shows that some porphyrin compounds in vertebrate blood can survive under the right conditions for millions of years.”
Similar blood compounds have been found in ancient dinosaur bones.
That being said, there are still plenty of reasons “Jurassic Park” is very unlikely.
First, amber-preserved insects don’t keep DNA intact even over thousands of years, let alone millions. Secondly, the insect used in “Jurassic Park” wasn’t actually a blood-sucking variety of mosquito. Third, we’ve discovered that the half life of DNA is only about 520 years, not nearly long enough for there to be enough DNA left after millions ofyears.
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