According to CNET News on Tuesday, researchers have come across the incredibly cool discovery of a fossilized, blood-engorged mosquito. It just won’t be leading to the creation of any velociraptors.
According to Western Digs, this is the first blood-filled ancient fossilized mosquito ever found.
“The chances that such an insect would be preserved in shale is almost infinitesimally small,” Dale Greenwalt, a researcher at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., told LiveScience.
The rare mosquito fossil was given to the museum as a gift. According to NBC News, Greenwalt immediately noticed something very odd about the fossilized insect. Greenwalt and his team of researchers proceeded to bombard the mosquito fossil with molecules of bismuth, which causes certain chemicals in the fossil to vaporize. These vapors were then analyzed using a mass spectrometer, which identifies chemicals by their atomic weights, a process called time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry.
This particular fossilized mosquito dates from the Eocene, which is just 45 million years ago, or well after the dinosaurs disappeared.
Among the chemicals they recovered from the fossilized mosquito were porphyrins, which are organic compounds present in hemoglobin, a protein found in blood.
Scientists say finding these compounds provides “incontrovertible documentation” of heme, and therefore likely hemoglobin, inside the mosquito’s abdomen – a record of its very last meal before perishing and subsequently being preserved in sediment.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell what kind of animal the blood came from. DNA doesn’t preserve very well – The Sydney Morning Herald notes that DNA can’t survive more than 6.8 million years.
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