Jurassic Park 2013? Scientists discover fossilized mosquito full of blood
Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 2:25 -
A mosquito that lived 46 million years ago has been discovered in northwestern Montana with a stomach full of blood.
Unlike the famous mosquito in the popular film Jurassic Park the fossil wasn't found in amber. Instead, it was preserved in shale oil.
Researchers say this is the first time a mosquito containing ancient blood has been found.
While blood-sucking insect fossils have been seen in the past, their bellies have been empty. Prior to this find, scientists didn't know that an insect could be preserved in a substance other than amber.
THE DE-EXTINCTION CONTROVERSY: Should scientists bring extinct animals back?
JURASSIC PARK 2.0?
In Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster film, scientists extracted DNA from a fossilized mosquito and used it to clone an amusement park full of dinosaurs -- but in reality, Jurassic Park is still a long way off.
Scientists say that DNA in the mosquito's stomach is badly degraded, but other blood molecules -- like iron and porphyrin -- have withstood the test of time.
Even if scientists were able to extract DNA from this particular mosquito, they wouldn't end up with a dinosaur.
Study lead Dale Greenwalt says the bug lived about 20 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, and probably dined on birds.
Still, scientists say the finding is exciting and important, largely because of how it came to light.
Rare equipment from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, coupled with the use of chemicals to decipher clues, prove that with a little bit of innovation and a lot of creative thinking, even the seemingly impossible can happen.
The complete study can be read in the most recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.