Mosquito fossils found with 46 million year old blood

It wasn’t amber that housed them, but shale, nevertheless scientists have a first: an intact blood meal found in a fossil. Yeah, it sounds real Jurassic Park but no one is putting up raptor fences quite yet. Nope. The DNA in the blood is most likely degraded. Score one to reality.

A team of scientists at Washington DC’s US National Museum of Natural History reported the discovery of a mosquito fossil with traces of blood still accessible in its stomach. Lead by Dale Greenwalt, the team was surprised, very surprised, to find that the blood had not disintegrated before fossilization set in. The chances of this discovery occurring were very, very small.

They also confirm of the claims of Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, who had said in a Scientific American article:

Peering through the microscope at the thin slice of fossilized bone, I stared in disbelief at the small red spheres a colleague had just pointed out to me. The tiny structures lay in a blood vessel channel that wound through the pale yellow hard tissue. Each had a dark center resembling a cell nucleus. In fact, the spheres looked just like the blood cells in reptiles, birds and all other vertebrates alive today except mammals, whose circulating blood cells lack a nucleus. They couldn’t be cells, I told myself. The bone slice was from a dinosaur that a team from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., had recently uncovered—a Tyrannosaurus rex that died some 67 million years ago—and everyone knew organic material was far too delicate to persist for such a vast stretch of time.

The fossils were found in shale sediments in Montana. It wasn’t amber and there is no word whether if, in fact, it had been amber, the DNA in the blood would have been usable to build a T-Rex. Because, scientists have not cottoned on to the awesome power of Steven Spielberg and are caught up in empirical knowledge and crap like that.

Story Via Washington Post


The actual discovery of blood was made by showing that the mosquito stomachs contained iron and something called porphyrin — a molecule – and that combination are both found in haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in blood. The presence of these molecules is only in female mosquito fossils because males don’t suck blood. 

What do you think this is? An Anne Rice novel?

Between Schweitzer’s findings and that Greenwalt’s team, new opportunities in scientific exploration are bound to open up reaching into the heart of our dinosaur ancestors.