An Oregon State University researcher has found a 30-million-year-old tick encased in amber, and he thinks it’s full of blood belonging to a monkey.
George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus at Oregon State University and the scientist who first theorized that amber could fossilize ancient DNA (and thus inspired Jurassic Park), has recently published a paper in the Journal of Medical Entomology detailing the discovery.
Poinar found the tick at the Cordillera Septentrional mountain range in the Dominican Republic. According to Gizmodo, the monkey who picked the tick off punctured it slightly before throwing it into a pile of amber, allowing some of the blood — which happen to be the oldest fossilized mammalian blood cells ever found — to flow out.
Poinar also found evidence of a blood parasite called Babesia microti, which is still in existence today, according to Smithsonian Magazine, on the tick.
“The life forms we find in amber can reveal so much about the history and evolution of diseases we still struggle with today,” Poinar said in a news release. “This parasite, for instance, was clearly around millions of years before humans, and appears to have evolved alongside primates, among other hosts.”
That said, despite a tick full of ancient monkey blood being in the hands of the professor who inspired Jurassic Park, don’t expect a primate version of the fictional theme park anytime soon.
“[I have] no other hypotheses for the mammal host… Too bad I couldn’t find some monkey hair along with the sample,” Poinar told Gizmodo. “I wish I could get some DNA out of the specimen, but it would destroy it… so I am not trying at the moment.”
Next, check out this newly discovered dinosaur that looked like a chicken, before finding out about the giant primordial worm with record-breaking jaws.