Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Ticks and Blood Cells Haven’t Evolved in “20 Million Years,” Amber Discovery Suggests

Image courtesy of George Poinar, Jr., Oregon State University.

Joel Kontinen

Some animals change over time. Others don’t.

Most of the creatures buried in amber show little or no change in “tens of millions of years”.

Examples include insects such as ants (see an image here; the text is in Finnish), beetles and spiders,things like bird feathers and even flowers.

A new paper by Emeritus Professor George Poinar, Jr. published in the Journal of Medical Entomology adds to the list.

Science Daily attempts to reconstruct what happened:

Two monkeys grooming each other about 20-30 million years ago may have helped produce a remarkable new find - the first fossilized red blood cells from a mammal, preserved so perfectly in amber that they appear to have been prepared for display in a laboratory.”

Discovered in the Dominican Republic, the amber also held a tick and the parasite Babesia microti that still makes life uncomfortable for humans and animals.

Two small holes in the back of a blood-engorged tick, which allowed blood to ooze out just as the tick became stuck in tree sap that later fossilized into amber, provide a brief glimpse of life in a tropical jungle millions of years ago.”

Nothing much new under the sun, it seems. While the dates are inflated, the discovery shows that life in the fallen world has its disadvantages.


Oregon State University. 2017. Monkey business produces rare preserved blood in amber fossils. Science Daily. (3 April).