Any news relating to ticks is most likely bad news. Ticks were much discussed among experts, politicians and the public this year for the increased risk of tick-borne disease facing people living in the northeastern region of the United States. It was also recently discovered that some ticks can transmit a disease that makes victims allergic to red meat. It is hard to imagine how ticks could be discussed in a manner that is not negative. However, one recent tick-related finding may be an exception. A prehistoric tick fossilized in amber was recently discovered by an entomologist. Experts believe that this ninety nine million year old tick most likely sucked blood from dinosaurs. This may not necessarily be good news, but this news story is certainly not depressing like most tick-related news stories. Actually, this recent finding is interesting as scientists have never known much about the feeding habits of prehistoric ticks. It is also a bit of a relief to learn that we humans are not singled out by ticks, as even dinosaurs could not evade the bothersome and parasitic bloodsuckers.
The recent finding showed a tick grasping a feather. According to experts, this feather belonged to a dinosaur, as dinosaurs are now known to have been coated with feathers. This amber fossil is most notable for being the first piece of evidence to suggest that prehistoric ticks fed on dinosaur blood. Surprisingly, this fossilized tick was discovered in a fossil collection located in Myanmar. An entomologist who works for the Museum of Natural History, David Grimaldi, discovered the fossil while browsing a collection. After close inspection, Grimaldi determined that the tick died while in its nymphal stage. The tick’s host is believed to have been a tiny dinosaur species that was no bigger than a hummingbird. The tick likely lived alongside the small dinosaurs within their nests. These ancient ticks were pests to dinosaurs and they probably fed on them regularly. Grimaldi referred to the minute dinosaurs as “nanoraptors”.
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