The New York Times reports this week that paleontologists inspecting a collection of amber from northern Myanmar recently found several entombed ticks, including one that they estimated to be about 99 million years old. One of these ticks was frozen forever while grasping what the researchers believe is a feather from a hummingbird-sized dinosaur, which a scientist who was not involved in the study called “the most compelling evidence to date for ticks feeding on feathered animals in the Cretaceous.” Another of the ticks was engorged with blood and swelled to eight times its normal size, suggesting it had recently fed.
Perhaps you remember a little film from 1993 called Jurassic Park, about a fantastical modern-day island where dinosaurs roam free, created by a scientist who found an ancient mosquito entombed in amber that was filled with preserved dinosaur blood. I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but if I remember correctly, nothing at all goes wrong, and the park stands as a testament to human scientific achievement, delighting and educating the people of Earth for generations to come. Check out the relevant clip below:
Now, to be clear, the paleontologists can’t be sure what sort of blood the second tick is filled with, so it’s possible that it comes from some other prehistoric animal and not a bona fide dino. And the Times piece closes with an admission from Dr. Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente that “there was no chance they could perform any Jurassic Park shenanigans by extracting its stolen blood.”
You can trust whomever you want. Personally, I’m going with the bearded guy in the Panama hat from the movie–he looks pretty smart. Bring on the velociraptors!