Image of the Day: 99-Million-Year-Old Blood Sucker

Scientists have found the oldest known specimen of a blood-sucking insect together with the remains of its host. 

Dec 13, 2017
The Scientist Staff

A so-called hard tick grasping a dinosaur feather, sealed in a 99-million-year-old piece of amber ENRIQUE PEÑALVER ET AL.Locked inside a piece of 99-million-year-old Burmese Amber, a prehistoric tick was discovered clasping a dinosaur feather. Specimens of blood-feeding creatures found together with their hosts are rare, and this is the oldest one known to date. 

While this might be reminiscent of Jurassic Park, the discovery won't yield any dinosaur-coding DNA. Previous attempts to extract genetic material from amber fossils have been unsuccessful due to the short life of DNA. 

E. Peñalver et al., "Parasitised feathered dinosaurs as revealed by Cretaceous amber assemblages," Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01550-z, 2017.