Ticks had a taste for dinosaur blood | Science News

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Ticks had a taste for dinosaur blood

But it’s not clear which species the bloodsuckers preferred

By
11:00am, December 12, 2017
tick on a dino feather preserved in amber

DINE-O-SAUR  In this 99-million-year-old piece of amber, a tick trapped on a dinosaur feather provides rare evidence of the hosts these bloodsuckers preferred during the Cretaceous Period.

Ticks once tickled dinosaurs’ feathers.

The tiny arthropods have been surreptitiously sucking blood for more than 100 million years, but evidence of early ticks’ preferred hosts has been scant. Now, samples of amber from Myanmar have caught the critters with their spiny mouthparts inside the cookie jar. A hunk of 99-million-year-old amber holds a tick tangled in a dinosaur feather, researchers report December 12 in Nature Communications. Other pieces of amber suggest that a different tick species from the same period, dubbed Deinocroton draculi, hung out in feathered dinosaur nests (SN: 8/23/14, p. 15).

The tick enmeshed in the feather belongs to the same group of ticks as the deer ticks that bite humans and other animals today. But it’s hard to

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