Jurassic Park Is Real: Scientists Find Insect Trapped in Amber That Drank Dinosaur Blood

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 - 10:29AM
Science News
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 - 10:29AM
Jurassic Park Is Real: Scientists Find Insect Trapped in Amber That Drank Dinosaur Blood
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Image credit: Pixabay
John Hammond has finally been vindicated. Even if Jurassic Park took some liberties with its dinosaurs, we finally have confirmation that the science behind them was more than science-fiction.

One of the most enjoyable things about Jurassic Park is the film's unwavering dedication to portraying dinosaurs as realistically as possible.

From the way these animals hunted, to their bird-like walking, everything was taken from cutting-edge paleontological research.

Sure, the velociraptors were made bigger so they'd be scarier, but even that artistic license was fixed when the Utahraptor was discovered during the film's production.

This attention to detail extended to the origin of the movie's dinosaurs.

Taken from Michael Crichton's original novel, the idea of using blood-sucking insects that have been trapped in fossilized amber to clone prehistoric animals was at the time backed up by scientific theory—although, sadly, no scientists had been able to find concrete proof that the strategy would work.

Some scientists, such as Oxford University's Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente, have held onto the belief that amber holds the key to understanding the ecosystem of the Land Before Time.

Decades of research have finally paid off—a specimen of amber from Myanmar has proven conclusively that bugs really did drink dinosaur blood for survival.

The amber sample in question shows a tiny bloodsucking tick, holding fast to the feather of a dinosaur.

It looks as if the feature in question was gummed up with tree sap which then hardened, preserving the tick for millions upon millions of years, until we now finally have the chance to study it up close.

According to Pérez-de la Fuente:

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"Amber is fossilized resin, so it's able to capture small bits of the ecosystem almost instantly. Amber can actually preserve interactions between organisms. This is the case with the feather and the grasping tick."
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As for what dinosaur this might be, the sample appears to come from the Cretacious period, which is by far the most exciting era of dinosaur history—this is when all the cool monsters, like the triceratops and the tyrannosaurus rex, roamed the earth while presumably marveling to themselves about how nothing bad ever falls from the sky to kill everyone.

The only disappointing thing about this discovery is that it, sadly, does not mean that prehistoric animals can be cloned in order to provide us with more deadly amusement parks.

Alas, there is is one big flaw in the plan of cloning dinosaurs from dinosaur blood preserved in amber: DNA doesn't last indefinitely.

No matter how perfectly amber may preserve insects, the dinosaur DNA within this tick has long since broken down to the point of being unrecognizable. We couldn't grow our own authentic dinosaurs, even if we wanted to.

This is perhaps for this reason that Jurassic World goes out of its way to suggest that the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar have always been a little less that authentic—we may one day be able to build our own dinosaurs by tampering with genetics, but we can't regrow genuine creatures without using a time machine to get a fresher sample of DNA.

Oh well. Nobody wants to see a feathered T-Rex anyway.
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Scientists Just Found an Insect Trapped in Amber That Drank Dinosaur Blood