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Fossilized Mosquito Has Blood-filled Abdomen

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the life-will-find-a-way dept.

Science 86

ananyo writes "Jurassic Park's iconic image of a fossilized blood-filled mosquito was thought to be fiction — until now. For the first time, researchers have identified a fossil of a female mosquito with traces of blood in its engorged abdomen. The fossilized mosquito contains molecules that provide strong evidence of blood-feeding among ancient insects back to 46 million years ago (paper abstract). The insect was found not in amber, as depicted in Jurassic Park, but in shale sediments from Montana. After 46 million years, however, any DNA would be long degraded."

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86 comments

That's why it was fossilized (-1, Redundant)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 6 months ago | (#45140529)

Don't be gross. Why is everythign about sdrinking blood and vampires these days, it is so not cool and so stupid and childinsh. Get over it already!

Re:That's why it was fossilized (-1, Offtopic)

epyT-R (613989) | about 6 months ago | (#45140619)

Are you really that much of a crybaby? Your insecurity precedes you. Don't like it? Don't watch it.

However, I do agree that the whole vampire and zombie thing is overdone now...turning them into prisses made it worse.

Re:That's why it was fossilized (1, Offtopic)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 6 months ago | (#45140637)

Overdone *now* ? It's been overdone ever since Buffy ended and they started making vampires into pre-teen girly heart throbs.

Re:That's why it was fossilized (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45140985)

While Buffy is entertaining I would argue that it is part of what destroyed vampires. The whole idea of making vampires into some sort of demon things was a pretty bad take on vampires in my opinion.

Also, with vampire Willow and dark Willow, pre-teen girly hearts isn't the only thing that throbs.

Re:That's why it was fossilized (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 6 months ago | (#45141839)

Yes, because the vampires on Buffy were all ugly, overweight, middle-aged men. Not a pretty or handsome teenager or 20-something in sight on that show.

Re:That's why it was fossilized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45147389)

Yes, because the vampires on Buffy were all ugly, overweight, middle-aged men. Not a pretty or handsome teenager or 20-something in sight on that show.

They all most definitely were ugly when they showed their vampire face, there were no sweet smiles with pointy teeth and shiny contact lenses there. And none of them could be called a heart throb, even Angel was either a monster or a depressed neurotic with some serious personal flaws - until he got his own show that is.

Re:That's why it was fossilized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141685)

UserID: For a Free Internet: Demanding stuff not be done.

Yup. you're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?

JURASSIC PARK!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45140557)

I know, it's pretty awful to mention that it all started in that Movie with a blood filled Mosquito.... There you have it, I said it and there is nothing you can do about it!

Re:JURASSIC PARK!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141325)

Movie? Was it any different in the *book* ?

(honestly asking, I never read it)

Re:JURASSIC PARK!!!!! (1)

dragon-file (2241656) | about 6 months ago | (#45146001)

I just read the comments to try and find a Jurassic Park reference.... This comment will do nicely. Thank you.

Ars (5, Informative)

piripiri (1476949) | about 6 months ago | (#45140591)

Ars Technica had a great article [arstechnica.com] on this matter.

beyond time immemorial (4, Interesting)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 6 months ago | (#45141399)

The real bottom line is that we should be searching for cold spots, like Antarctic caves, with relict animal DNA that might average -57C (-70F). Then let's see how many million years we can drive DNA recovery.

Re:Ars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141439)

It's rather obvious you arstech pricks use sockpuppets to mod up anything that says "ars had a great article about this" - go away: Your shilling and abusing the moderations system isn't wanted here.

Re:Ars (-1, Troll)

piripiri (1476949) | about 6 months ago | (#45142065)

U mad bro? Before spitting your shit, be sure about your claims.

Re:Ars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143073)

We're sure. Your profane reaction projects he exposed you. Blowing mod points to downmod him does it even more.

Re:Ars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143415)

I like how on internet people know everything. or at least believe they know everything

Re:Ars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45146847)

+5? More ars' sockpuppet up mods to their own post + shilling. Go away losers.

Found in shale sediment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45140613)

Given that (i believe) shale sediment is not translucent, how was the mosquito found anyhow?

Re:Found in shale sediment. (2)

EzInKy (115248) | about 6 months ago | (#45140635)

Hominids have been splitting rocks for a couple of millions of years now.

Re:Found in shale sediment. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 6 months ago | (#45143913)

Yes, but needles and transcontinental haystacks come to mind here....

Re:Found in shale sediment. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 6 months ago | (#45144313)

Just assume the haystack's full of needles—for example, in getting this mosquito, they may have narrowly missed uncovering the three hundred million year old remains of a Buick with tomorrow's winning lottery ticket in the glove compartment.

Re:Found in shale sediment. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 6 months ago | (#45155931)

It's OK, a three hundred million year old lottery ticket would be a forgery anyway, so nothing was lost.

Challenge the impossible... (5, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 6 months ago | (#45140659)

After 46 million years, however, any DNA would be long degraded.

That's what they used to say about Neandertal DNA. Turns out the DNA does indeed begin to fragment but you can still piece it together for a very long time after it begins to degrade. In this case that statement is it's probably right and 46 million years is too long and even if you could recover some Dino DNA (from any source) it will be fragmented beyond recovery with current technology. Even so, we should not stop trying to defy established notions of what is impossible. A Scientist at Yale University recently discovered that pigments do not degrade, they sometimes fossilise which is an amazing discovery since it means that if we find fossilised dinosaur skin, feathers or insect exoskeletons for that matter we can figure out what color long extinct animals were [scientificamerican.com] . It was almost a scientific axiom that we would never know what color dinosaurs were and it certainly blew me away when I found out that was wrong.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45140813)

You can replace the lost DNA with frog DNA.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (3, Funny)

flimflammer (956759) | about 6 months ago | (#45140835)

Just make sure you don't pick those frogs that can switch genders.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141087)

Good idea, I use the door-opening ones instead!

Re:Challenge the impossible... (2)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 6 months ago | (#45141291)

Just make sure you don't pick those frogs that can switch genders.

They all can. Gender in amphibians and reptiles is largely determined by the ambient temperature of the eggs.
This is unlike mammals and birds where mostly predetermined by genetics (sex chromosome).

Re:Challenge the impossible... (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about 6 months ago | (#45146555)

Birds are like this as well. Chickens are a good example. Each cell in a chicken has a particular sex, what makes the chicken male or female is that there are more cells of one than the other. This can lead to some odd chickens that are half female, half male.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 6 months ago | (#45146863)

That's probably chimerism. A male and female embryo fuse at an early stage and their cells end up in random places.
That's known to happen in humans too.
Once a bird/mammal starts out as a genetic male or female, it will develop into that (mostly, there are some hormonal imbalances possible).
Not so in fish/amphibians/reptiles, that start out as genetic male/female/undetermined but develop into a temperature determined gender (a higher temperature biases the male/female mix towards one of the two, usually male).

Re:Challenge the impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143911)

Because life will always find away! Goldbloom style!

Re:Challenge the impossible... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#45140889)

It's also too recent for dinosaurs.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 months ago | (#45141245)

true but it is curious as to what kind of animal it dna of. While the earth would have restored itself. There were no dinosaurs, so i wonder what kind of creature that blood sucker liked to feed on.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#45141331)

Eocene. The rapidly diversifying mammals would be ripe for sucking.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (4, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 6 months ago | (#45141891)

Welcome to Eocene Parkl! Enjoy our vaguely badger and rodent-looking things!

Re:Challenge the impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142597)

Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger!

And a few mushrooms because of slashdots repetition filter.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141273)

This. It is basically like half-lives. There is still going to be something somewhere and given enough samples and enough time, there could be a lot of stuff that could easily be stitched together and filled in with other DNA that are known descendants of some of the smaller ones that survived.

Admittedly finding enough samples is the problem here, but we still haven't really truly dug deep in places where it likely could be hiding out, waiting to be found.
It is the Mars Problem, life, no life, we'd need to dig really deep in order to find anything since the surface has been blasted to hell and back for millions of years now.
If there was life, it is likely deep down like the life we have found in deep caves and the like, and ESPECIALLY in the permafrosts at the pole, that is the most likely place to find anything as even in earlier days when the planet was cooling down from the fiery birth, life was already on its way and there could be remains trapped in the pole that would have been cooler than the rest of the planets surface.
Same goes with Earth, pre and post genesis of life is likely trapped under there, I mean you saw the huge cavern found under the pole recently that was dug in to, there are likely loads of these deep down under the planet in the middles of plates since those tend to be stable, geologically. Anything at the edge of plates is gone, done, finished. Melted never to be seen for many years in to the future.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 6 months ago | (#45141503)

That's what they used to say about Neandertal DNA.

I'm hoping that the mosquito bit a pig. Then we could all be dining really soon . . . on . . . Jurassic Pork!

We already have enough Neandertaler still walking the face of the planet today . . .

Re:Challenge the impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142041)

Preboreal Pork Park!

Re:Challenge the impossible... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142419)

As one of the 'Black Irish', a possible descendant of H. Neandertalensis, I find your aspersions cast on my subspecies offensive! As an ambush, not endurance, hunter, I can probably out-think you on my worst day!

Why are you running away! *Cough* *Wheeze* STOP!

Re:Challenge the impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142181)

Yep, DNA may start to deteriorate, however you have a boatload of the stuff. It is basically like putting together a puzzle. (Albeit an extremely complex/challenging one.)

Re:Challenge the impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143217)

Regarding colour - there's also structural colouration where the colour is not due to pigments but due to the structure of stuff like feathers, scales, wings - a lot of colours are due to this effect. I don't know whether this makes it harder or easier to figure out the colour though.

Re:Challenge the impossible... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#45143799)

I know it's still science fiction, but couldn't a 3D map be made showing the relative placement of atoms from the belly of the bug? Then it becomes the worlds nastiest jigsaw puzzle.

work backwards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45140699)

If any proteins are intact, you could work out their amino acid sequence and determine the gene encoding that produces it. It's not perfect, but it's better than giving up.

Re:work backwards (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 6 months ago | (#45141589)

_ _ _ / _ r _ / _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Reconstruct that sequence. If the half-life of DNA really is ~500 years, then this message will be orders of magnitude easier to construct.

Re:work backwards (3, Informative)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 6 months ago | (#45141729)

You/are/an/imbecile
That was an easy one.

Re:work backwards (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 6 months ago | (#45141873)

Okay, round two:

Slashdot's "junk character" filter won't let me post this in the same format, so I'll have to do it this way:
-Twelve-letter word
-Three-letter word
-Four-letter word
-Four-letter word
-Eleven-letter word
-Four-letter word
-One-letter word
-Four-letter word
-Four-letter word
-Six-letter word
-Three-letter word
The last letter of the first word is "s."

Re:work backwards (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 6 months ago | (#45141779)

_ _ _ / _ r _ / _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Reconstruct that sequence. If the half-life of DNA really is ~500 years, then this message will be orders of magnitude easier to construct.

The/_r_/is/_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The serendipic effects of fraccing (0)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 6 months ago | (#45140775)

More such scientific discoveries will be made.
Fraccing is GOOD!
What a find.

Re:The serendipic effects of fraccing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45140809)

Indeed, I fracked your mom last night, drilled long, hard and deep, and filled her with my fracking fluid. Unfortunately, The excess activity made methane escape from adjacent wells.

don't use it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141009)

please, don't use the DNA.
we already know how it will end :P

Oh yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141099)

Well so do I, but you don't hear me bragging about it!

A slight alteration... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141281)

...Fossilized Mosquito Has Blood-filled Abdomen...

Fossilized Mosquito HAD Blood-filled Abdomen...

There. Fixed that for ya...

Re:A slight alteration... (2)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 6 months ago | (#45141361)

...Fossilized Mosquito Has Blood-filled Abdomen...

Fossilized Mosquito HAD Blood-filled Abdomen...

There. Fixed that for ya...

Clever girl...

Of all the things to go extinct... (2)

Alejux (2800513) | about 6 months ago | (#45141383)

...why not mosquitos?!!! The most vile, annoying creatures to ever to roam the earth!

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 6 months ago | (#45141585)

That's a funny way to spell lawyers

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45145907)

Two mosquitoes meet at the tax office entrance. The one flying in tells the other one while passing by: "forget it, they're bloodsuckers themselves!"

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 6 months ago | (#45141603)

Alas, evolution has not generally selected on the grounds of "pleasantness to mankind."

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142127)

Well it isn't for lack of trying.

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142553)

Tell that to Corn.

Or Cows.

Or Pigs.

Or Wheat.

Or Rice.

(etc)

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#45143811)

only recently man has done things with those species; the species from which the farm versions were bred had survived the evolutionary system

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143385)

I have heard that the mosquitos are an important part of the ecology, as they are food for many other animals and they act as pollinators when they are not sucking blood. The ones that don't carry diseases are quite harmless, although annoying.

In Finland, there are two insects greatly more annoying than mosquitos, which are small and harmless here. Horse-flies [wikipedia.org] are big and fast and bite a lot more painfully. They also are very hard to kill and it's hard to even run away from them.

Neither of those is too bad, as they just bite you once and then fly away. Deer flies [wikipedia.org] , on the other hand, don't go away. They are fast and silent, fly to your hair or clothes, cut their wings off and crawl around. They stick to your hair, so you need to pick them one at a time. If you want to kill one, don't try stomping on it, that won't work. Even squeezing them between your fingers does not necessarily kill them unless you use your fingernails. Not to mention that they are swarming in autumn and might attack at large numbers (like mosquitos). Luckily they don't bite fast, and they (not often enough) even fly away if they notice you are not a deer before they cut their wings off.

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45146481)

...why not mosquitos?!!! The most vile, annoying creatures to ever to roam the earth!

Seems you need some education about mosquitos and "vile creatures". Mosquitos are far from vile - they are actually a VERY IMPORTANT part of the ecosystem. Without the little mosquitos, you would have less food to eat never mind all the birds and other critters that would go extinct as mosquitos are their core diet.

If you want "vile creatures" that serve no purpose but to be parasites and generally vile, please consult the following photos of some real vile creatures. Enjoy and be happy that mosquitos are the most vile thing you have to deal with.

http://www.geotimes.org/june08/feature_salt2.jpg [geotimes.org] http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jYoQxXygln4/T4b1e9A8eVI/AAAAAAAAAfw/55tk8GXFD-0/s1600/Roundworms+1.jpg

http://www.gearfuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Guinea-Worms.jpg [gearfuse.com]

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080714195209/x-files/images/3/3a/Parasitic_ice_worm_in_dog's_ear.jpg [nocookie.net]

http://www.stanford.edu/class/humbio103/ParaSites2006/Loiasis/Images/loa_loa_eye.gif [stanford.edu]

Re:Of all the things to go extinct... (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 6 months ago | (#45148155)

You've seen the pictures of giant prehistoric dragonflies.

I, for one, am happy we don't have to deal with hordes of giant prehistoric mosquitoes.

Montana? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45141979)

Great, maybe they can find some original DNA from Hannah, new-miley sucks...

Rather than clone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45142803)

Rather than try to clone a dino, the way technology is advancing, it would probably be easier in a few years, to simply design a dino from scratch.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143433)

Fossilized Congressman has money-filled Abdomen.

Film At Six

Its in better shape than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45143563)

Because its not that old. When they find out its in not so bad of shape, they'll be trying to figure out how it could of lasted that long, when the real answer is its not that old, just like the T-Rex red blood cells that were found a few years back.

That's my prediction.

Degraded DNA (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about 6 months ago | (#45143621)

After 46 million years, however, any DNA would be long degraded."

No problem, That's where our geneticists take over. Thinking Machine supercomputers and gene sequencers break down the strand in minutes - - - - and Virtual Reality displays show our geneticists the gaps in the DNA sequence! Since most animal DNA is ninety percent identical, we use the complete DNA of a frog - - - - to fill in the - - holes and - -complete - - the - - - - code! Whew! Now we can make a baby dinosaur!

Too bad (2)

azav (469988) | about 6 months ago | (#45144613)

That red blood calls generally don't have DNA.

Bummer, huh?

Re:Too bad (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#45151409)

Given that mosquitos drink whole blood, and not just red blood cells, you'd expect to find DNA-carrying cells in with any red blood cells. Of course it's moot because the traces they found were not cells.

Don't DNA molecules leave fossil imprints? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45145229)

I remember reading, about a year ago, of a discovery where the DNA itself was long since degraded, but that the molecules had left something like the molecular equivalent of a footprint in mud, such that scientists could (at least theoretically) recreate the original DNA molecule from the impressions left in (I believe) bone fragments.

Does anyone have info on this?

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