A rare 46-million-year old mosquito fossil has been discovered inside a Montana riverbed, say United States researchers. What makes her so special is that she has a belly full of dried blood.
Dale Greenwalt, a top researcher of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stated that this is very rare, probably the only type of fossil of this sort in the entire world and that nothing exactly like this has ever been found before.
Instruments on the cutting-edge of technology were able to detect the unique traces of iron in the insect’s distended abdomen, but just what animal the blood happened to come from is unknown since being able to retrieve DNA from any fossils which are that old is impossible at this time.
Greenwalt explained it could have been blood from some sort of bird, since the ancient mosquito closely looks like the modern type, and they like to suck the blood of modern birds, so that would make sense, even if it is pure speculation.
Greenwalt, who is a retired biochemist, lends some of his free time to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He explaines how he became fascinated with insects that had become fossils many years ago.
He had heard about a Master’s student named Kurt Constenius, who was describing his discoveries of fossilized insects along a remote riverbed located in Montana. It was in an old geological journal that was over 20 years old.
Greenwalt got in touch with Constenius and they began discussing the fossil lands which lay close to the Flathead River that ran nearby the western borderline of the Glacier National Park.
The fossil of the mosquito was from an assortment of fossilized insects basically just wasting away in Constenius’s basement since around the 1980s, and that he and his family had bequeathed to the Smithsonian museum.
As soon as it was seen, I realized I was looking at something different, Greenwalt explained. No other mosquito that has ever been found has ever had any type of blood found undigested inside her abdomen before. Only females of the species drink blood, males do not.
The actual mosquito fossil itself is just about 0.5cm in size but in some miracle fashion, the small creature survived even after death. It dined on its last meal, filling up its abdomen until it was almost ready to explode like a balloon.
Next, maybe the as the mosquito was soaring over some algae-coated pond, where it possibly happened to become caught in thick, slimy mucus, or was enclosed by microorganisms which both killed it and also saved it from decaying. It would in due course sink deep down into the dregs of the mossy lake.
Even though its age is very impressive, this mosquito is still far from being the oldest known insect fossil. That honor belongs to a 95-million-year-old mosquito which is locked inside a slice of golden amber from the country of Myanmar. Nevertheless, that much older mosquito does not have any blood in the belly. This specialty stays with the 46-million-year old mosquito fossil.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble