STATES CHRONICLE – It appears that not even the earliest land animals weren’t immune to ticks, as scientists have recently uncovered a preserved tick-like creature trapped in amber.
Preserved Ticks Found in Amber
Based on evidence uncovered at the dig site, the researchers speculate that these ticks, known as Cornupalpatum burmanicum, lived around 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. This makes them the oldest known species of parasite. The insect was found nearby what can be assumed to be its fossilized prey.
For years, paleontologists have suspected that parasites fed on the blood of dinosaurs as they do on birds. However, it’s been difficult to uncover evidence of both dinosaurs and parasitic creatures preserved together in this way before. As such, this discovery is indeed one of great significance.
Doctor Ricardo Perez-de la Fuente, a paleontologist with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and a co-author of the study, points out just how rare this discovery is.
He points that, in paleontology, it is “extremely rare” to find both the preserved remains of a parasite and its host. Even more unexpected was the fact that one of the samples was found preserved alongside one of the dinosaur’s feathers. This helped prove with little doubt left that the tick intended to feed on the creature fossilized nearby.
Another specimen found in the area, the Deinocroton draculi, was harder to link back to. This was not as close or as indisputably attached to the host dinosaur.
However, based on several hair-like setae found on the specimen’s body, the team inferred that the tick-like creatures might have used those features to cling inside nests. Certain species of dinosaurs are believed to have built such habitats.
Unfortunately, any dinosaur lovers out there will have to put to rest the idea of cloning them back into existence through the use of the DNA inside the ticks. Researchers say this is highly unlikely to be possible given the short lifespan of genetic material.
These latest discoveries will, however, tell us more about the evolutionary cycle of both the dinosaur and the parasites. They might also help discover how these two types of creatures have been linked throughout the eras.
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