An international team of fossil-hunters working in Myanmar has discovered several ticks preserved within a 99-million-year-old resin cast amid the remains of a dinosaur nest. And, in what seems like the plot from Jurassic Park, one of the parasites appeared to be bloated with what researchers believe is an actual specimen of dinosaur blood.
The small tick, which had swelled in size eight times, was found inside some Burmese amber; and belongs to an extinct group called Deinocroton draculi or "Dracula's terrible tick."
Researchers say the findings provide insight into the evolution of ticks, supporting the notion blood-sucking parasites "fed on blood from feathered dinosaurs" almost 100 million years ago.
Unfortunately, however, scientists say there is little to no chance this blood-filled tick can be used to make a living, breathing and walking clone of a real dinosaur.
The team behind the discovery stress that all attempts to remove DNA from ancient amber specimens in the past have failed due to deterioration of the complex molecules over time. But the inner-child in all of us is screaming "why not give it a go anyway?"
Dr. Ricardo Perez-de-la-Fuente, a member of the team from Oxford University, claims: "The fossil record tells us that feathers were already present on a wide range of theropod dinosaurs." This includes "ground-running [dinosaurs] without flying ability, as well as bird-like dinosaurs capable of powered flight," he explains:
"Although we can't be sure what kind of dinosaur the tick was feeding on, the age of the amber confirms the feather certainly did not belong to a modern bird."
"These appeared much later in theropod evolution according to current fossil and molecular evidence," Dr Perez-de-la-Fuente said.
Jurassic Park is a 1993 movie directed by Steven Speilberg based on dinosaurs being resurrected from DNA extracted from a mosquito trapped in amber. A bunch of ancient insects, spiders, hair, feathers and food have been found trapped in this fossilized tree resin from a period when dinosaurs roamed the Earth – some dating back 300 million years.