Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Malaria mosquito found in amber from 100 million years ago


 anopheline mosquito, in amber, 100 mya/George Poinar Jr.

From ScienceDaily:

The anopheline mosquitoes that carry malaria were present 100 million years ago, new research shows, potentially shedding fresh light on the history of a disease that continues to kill more than 400,000 people annually.

“Mosquitoes could have been vectoring malaria at that time, but it’s still an open question,” said the study’s corresponding author, George Poinar Jr. of Oregon State University’s College of Science. “Back then anopheline mosquitoes were probably biting birds, small mammals and reptiles since they still feed on those groups today.”

In amber from Myanmar that dates to the mid-Cretaceous Period, Poinar and co-authors described a new genus and species of mosquito, which was named Priscoculex burmanicus. Various characteristics, including those related to wing veins, proboscis, antennae and abdomen indicate that Priscoculex is an early lineage of the anopheline mosquitoes.

“This discovery provides evidence that anophelines were radiating — diversifying from ancestral species — on the ancient megacontinent of Gondwana because it is now thought that Myanmar amber fossils originated on Gondwana,” said Poinar, an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn more about the biology and ecology of the distant past. Paper. (paywall) – George Poinar, Thomas J. Zavortink, Alex Brown. Priscoculex burmanicus n. gen. et sp. (Diptera: Culicidae: Anophelinae) from mid-Cretaceous Myanmar amber. Historical Biology, 2019; 1 DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2019.1570185 More.

The previous “earliest” record was from a fossil dated to 15 to 20 million years ago but what we don’t yet know is, did the mosquito then have the relationship it now has with the malaria parasite plasmodium? It’s a complex relationship, apparently. That could shed light on theories around evolution and strategies around malaria.

Amber is like video when it comes to information about life forms because it so often traps movement:

See also: Millipedes Found In 100 Mya Amber Comprise 13 Of 16 Known Groups

Beetle trapped in amber 99 mya offers window into prehistoric ecology So, in another instance of “earlier than thought,” pollination seems to have preceded flowering plants.

Spider in amber is 49 million-year-old member of living genus

Stasis: Dinosaur-era baby snake looks just like modern ones

“Live action” captured in a spider’s web from 100 million years ago

How did 20-30 myo salamander in amber get IN there?


Leave a Reply