Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Paleontologist's Dream Find

Nature of Science
Edward Hessler
Image result for amber dinosaur

The ca. 99-million-year-old Myanmar amber deposit has yielded another impressive find. 

A tick, clinging to a dinosaur feather, is the subject of a short report in Science by Gretchen Vogel. The dinosaur is a theropod, a small, non-flying member of the group which gave rise to birds.  It has been named Deinocroton draculi.

It is a great story of how the scientists involved reasoned and used direct and indirect evidence. This story describes the reasoning involved as well as the evidence. As paleontologist Ryan McKellar commentator noted that the authors have done a fantastic job of extracting every possible clue from these ancient snapshots. I agree.

There is also a link to the scientific paper in Vogel's essay which includes many more photographs and detailed description of the work.  It is a technical paper. The authors close their abstract by stating that these findings provide insight into early tick evolution and ecology, and shed light on poorly known arthropod–vertebrate interactions and potential disease transmission during the Mesozoic.

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