The discovery of a 46-million-year-old mosquito fossil is creating a buzz after researchers confirmed that the fossilized insect was found with a belly that contained traces of blood.
A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Oct. 13, 2013 gives the details of the prehistoric discovery of a fossilized female mosquito that was found inside a piece of shale.
Researchers noted that the discovery of the blood-engorged mosquito is a remarkable look into history of this particular family of insects.
Nature cites the US National Museum of Natural History's Dale Greenwalt description of the 46-million-year-old fossil, who stated that "the abdomen of a blood-engorged mosquito is like a balloon ready to burst. It is very fragile. The chances that it wouldn’t have disintegrated prior to fossilization were infinitesimally small."
"Jurassic Park" fans will remember that in the movie, a fossilized blood-filled mosquito was found in amber. Researchers found this real-life fossil in shale gas sediments in northwestern Montana.
George Poinar with the Oregon State University in Corvallis notes, "This shows that details of a blood-sucking mosquito can be nicely preserved in a medium other than amber."
"The abdomen of the fossil mosquito was shown to contain very high levels of iron, and mass spectrometry data provided a convincing identification of porphyrin molecules derived from the oxygen-carrying heme moiety of hemoglobin." - PNAS, Dale Greenwalt
Huffington Post reports that the mosquito flew long after dinosaurs went extinct. It's last meal was not from a dinosaur, but instead it was likely its belly was filled with blood from a bird.
"It's following Crichton's script in that we're using a blood engorged fossil mosquito and in this case we're using the direct descendent of the dinosaurs, given that we're 20 million years late," states Dale Greenwalt, the study's lead author.
Read the entire study about the fossilized mosquito here on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' website.