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Science

Fossilized Mosquito Has Blood-filled Abdomen 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the life-will-find-a-way dept.
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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Fossilized Mosquito Has Blood-filled Abdomen

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  • Ars (Score:5, Informative)

    by piripiri (1476949) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @02:50AM (#45140591) Journal
    Ars Technica had a great article [arstechnica.com] on this matter.
  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @03:14AM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You can replace the lost DNA with frog DNA.
      • by flimflammer (956759) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:03AM (#45140835)

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

        • 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).

        • by Kleen13 (1006327)
          Or cane toads....
    • It's also too recent for dinosaurs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 t

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @06:53AM (#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 . . .

      • by Anonymous Coward

        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!

    • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • by barlevg (2111272)
      _ _ _ / _ 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.
  • More such scientific discoveries will be made.
    Fraccing is GOOD!
    What a find.

  • ...finds a way.

  • by Alejux (2800513) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @06:27AM (#45141383)
    ...why not mosquitos?!!! The most vile, annoying creatures to ever to roam the earth!
    • That's a funny way to spell lawyers
    • by barlevg (2111272)
      Alas, evolution has not generally selected on the grounds of "pleasantness to mankind."
    • by quantaman (517394)

      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.

  • by endianx (1006895)

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

    So you're sayin' there's a chance!

  • 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!

  • by azav (469988) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:52AM (#45144613) Homepage Journal

    That red blood calls generally don't have DNA.

    Bummer, huh?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      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.

  • The DNA is long degraded. That's disappointing I was looking forward to barbecuing up mastodon steaks.

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