A team of scientists just made an exciting and very pop culture-friendly discovery in the US state of Montana: the first ever fossilised mosquito with a belly full of blood. This little guy's been hanging out underground for 46 million years, and it's a small miracle that it hung in there so long.
"The abdomen of a blood-engorged mosquito is like a balloon ready to burst. It is very fragile," team leader Dale Greenwalt of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington told Nature. "The chances that it wouldn't have disintegrated prior to fossilization were infinitesimally small." Just like Jurassic Park! This also appears to be the right kind of mosquito, unlike the species named in the movie.
Don't get your hopes up. Although this makes Michael Crichton's famous dino scenario seem a little bit more realistic, this does not mean that Jurassic Park could come true after all. The fact that DNA would have disintegrated millions of years ago means that there's no chance scientists could have extracted the information they needed to clone a dinosaur. The mosquito's abdomen did contain traces of iron and porphyrin, the building blocks of hemoglobin, though that's still not enough. Finally, the mosquito was not actually found in amber but rather in shale sediments — not that this would have changed how DNA is preserved.
Even if it doesn't bring us closer to getting an amusement park of death and delight, this is a pretty exciting discovery. We never knew that blood could last so long inside of a mosquito! What other kinds of surprises are hiding underneath Montana? Maybe the claw of an unknown species of velociraptor, the skull of the biggest ever T. Rex, a triceratops? The only thing that's missing is the stuff we'd actually need to make new ones.. [Nature]