World’s Strangest

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Vampire Parasite in Amber

A 20-million-year-old bat fly was discovered in a mine in the Dominican Republic, the first fossilized fly of its type ever found. Its descendants are still around, sucking blood from modern bats, but scientists did not know how far back these parasites existed. But what’s even more enlightening is that this fly carried an ancient strain of bat malaria, of a species new to science. George Poinar, Jr. of Oregon State University found the fly, and also found the malaria while examining the fly under a microscope.

Before he became a specialist in ancient diseases inside equally ancient bugs, Poinar had worked on attempting to extract DNA from insects trapped in amber—work which author Michael Crichton has acknowledged as part of his inspiration for Jurassic Park.

But no ancient bats will be reconstructed from this specimen, even if it were possible.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Poinar said, “this specimen is so rare that we wouldn’t want to attempt to try it.”

Read more about the bat fly at National Geographic News. Link


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