Ticks parasitised feathered dinosaurs as revealed by Cretaceous amber assemblages

Published on Dec 1, 2017in Nature Communications11.878
· DOI :10.1038/s41467-017-01550-z
Enrique Peñalver18
Estimated H-index: 18
(Instituto Geológico y Minero de España),
Antonio Arillo16
Estimated H-index: 16
(Complutense University of Madrid)
+ 5 AuthorsRicardo Pérez-de la Fuente10
Estimated H-index: 10
(University of Oxford)
Ticks are currently among the most prevalent blood-feeding ectoparasites, but their feeding habits and hosts in deep time have long remained speculative. Here, we report direct and indirect evidence in 99 million-year-old Cretaceous amber showing that hard ticks and ticks of the extinct new family Deinocrotonidae fed on blood from feathered dinosaurs, non-avialan or avialan excluding crown-group birds. A †Cornupalpatum burmanicum hard tick is entangled in a pennaceous feather. Two deinocrotonids described as †Deinocroton draculi gen. et sp. nov. have specialised setae from dermestid beetle larvae (hastisetae) attached to their bodies, likely indicating cohabitation in a feathered dinosaur nest. A third conspecific specimen is blood-engorged, its anatomical features suggesting that deinocrotonids fed rapidly to engorgement and had multiple gonotrophic cycles. 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.
Figures & Tables
  • References (46)
  • Citations (20)
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
9 Authors (Guanghai Shi, ..., LIXianhua)
555 Citations
485 Citations
37 Citations
78% of Scinapse members use related papers. After signing in, all features are FREE.
Last. Jason A. Dunlop (Museum für Naturkunde)H-Index: 10
view all 5 authors...
Amblyomma birmitum sp. nov. is formally described as a new record from 99 Ma old Burmese amber from Myanmar. This confirms the presence of the extant hard tick genus Amblyomma C.L. Koch, 1844 (Ixodida: Ixodidae) in the Late Cretaceous. This discovery is placed in its wider context and some reports of fossil hard ticks, such as a Hyalomma C.L. Koch, 1844 in Eocene Baltic amber, are misidentifications. The genus Amblyomma belongs to the clade Metastriata, a group which probably also accommodates t...
13 CitationsSource
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Jingmai K. O’Connor (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 26
Last. Ming Bai (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 16
view all 7 authors...
Abstract Burmese amber has recently provided some detailed glimpses of plumage, soft tissues, and osteology of juvenile enantiornithine birds, but these insights have been restricted to isolated wing apices. Here we describe nearly half of a hatchling individual, based on osteological and soft tissue data obtained from the skull, neck, feet, and wing, and identified as a member of the extinct avian clade Enantiornithes. Preserved soft tissue provides the unique opportunity to observe the externa...
26 CitationsSource
#1George Poinar (OSU: Oregon State University)H-Index: 26
Ticks transmit a variety of pathogenic organisms to vertebrates, especially mammals. The fossil record of such associations is extremely rare. An engorged nymphal tick of the genus Ambylomma in Dominican amber was surrounded by erythrocytes from its mammalian host. Some of the exposed erythrocytes contained developmental stages of a hemoprotozoan resembling members of the Order Piroplasmida. The fossil piroplasm is described, its stages compared with those of extant piroplasms, and reasons provi...
7 CitationsSource
#1Xing Xu (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 44
#2Philip J. Currie (U of A: University of Alberta)H-Index: 52
Last. Congyu Yu (PKU: Peking University)H-Index: 1
view all 8 authors...
Troodontids were theropod dinosaurs closely related to birds. Here, Xu and colleagues describe a new, feathered troodontid species, Jianianhualong tengi, dating from the Lower Cretaceous period in China that provides insight into troodontid mosaic evolution and paravian feathering.
17 CitationsSource
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Ryan C. McKellar (University of Regina)H-Index: 13
Last. Philip J. Currie (U of A: University of Alberta)H-Index: 52
view all 14 authors...
Summary In the two decades since the discovery of feathered dinosaurs [1–3], the range of plumage known from non-avialan theropods has expanded significantly, confirming several features predicted by developmentally informed models of feather evolution [4–10]. However, three-dimensional feather morphology and evolutionary patterns remain difficult to interpret, due to compression in sedimentary rocks [9, 11]. Recent discoveries in Cretaceous amber from Canada, France, Japan, Lebanon, Myanmar, an...
41 CitationsSource
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Ryan C. McKellar (University of Regina)H-Index: 13
Last. Xing Xu (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 44
view all 13 authors...
Our knowledge of Cretaceous plumage is limited by the fossil record itself: compression fossils surrounding skeletons lack the finest morphological details and seldom preserve visible traces of colour, while discoveries in amber have been disassociated from their source animals. Here we report the osteology, plumage and pterylosis of two exceptionally preserved theropod wings from Burmese amber, with vestiges of soft tissues. The extremely small size and osteological development of the wings, co...
33 CitationsSource
#1Ben J. Mans (University of Pretoria)H-Index: 32
#2Minique H. de Castro (UNISA: University of South Africa)H-Index: 6
Last. Abdalla A. LatifH-Index: 16
view all 7 authors...
Ancestral reconstruction in its fullest sense aims to describe the complete evolutionary history of a lineage. This depends on accurate phylogenies and an understanding of the key characters of each parental lineage. An attempt is made to delineate our current knowledge with regard to the ancestral reconstruction of the tick (Ixodida) lineage. Tick characters may be assigned to Core of Life, Lineages of Life or Edges of Life phenomena depending on how far back these characters may be assigned in...
28 CitationsSource
#1Richard O. Prum (Yale University)H-Index: 47
#2Jacob S. Berv (Yale University)H-Index: 6
Last. Alan R. Lemmon (Yale University)H-Index: 30
view all 7 authors...
Although reconstruction of the phylogeny of living birds has progressed tremendously in the last decade, the evolutionary history of Neoaves—a clade that encompasses nearly all living bird species—remains the greatest unresolved challenge in dinosaur systematics. Here we investigate avian phylogeny with an unprecedented scale of data: >390,000 bases of genomic sequence data from each of 198 species of living birds, representing all major avian lineages, and two crocodilian outgroups. Sequence da...
562 CitationsSource
#1Ben J. Mans (University of Pretoria)H-Index: 32
#2Daniel de KlerkH-Index: 6
Last. Abdalla A. Latif (University of Pretoria)H-Index: 16
view all 5 authors...
Abstract Nuclear ribosomal RNA (18S and 28S rRNA) and mitochondrial genomes are commonly used in tick systematics. The ability to retrieve these markers using next-generation sequencing was investigated using the tick Nuttalliella namaqua . Issues related to nuclear markers may be resolved using this approach, notably, the monotypic status of N. namaqua and its basal relationship to other tick families. Four different Illumina datasets (∼55 million, 100 bp reads each) were generated from a singl...
9 CitationsSource
#1George Poinar (OSU: Oregon State University)H-Index: 26
Abstract Rickettsial-like cells are reported from the body cavity of the Myanmar amber larval tick, Cornupalpatum burmanicum (Ixodida: Ixodidae). These cells are characterized and described in a new collective fossil genus erected for putative rickettsia in fossil ticks. The size and shape of the fossil cells resemble those of present day members of the Rickettsiaceae, many of which occur in the body cavity of present day ticks.
9 CitationsSource
Cited By20
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Pierre F.D. Cockx (University of Regina)H-Index: 3
Last. Ryan C. McKellar (KU: University of Kansas)H-Index: 13
view all 3 authors...
Abstract Even in the absence of associated skeletal material, isolated feathers in amber remain of high scientific interest. The remarkable preservation of these delicate structures in amber, implies a potential for significantly improving our knowledge of feather evolution and diversity. A large sample set of 150 Burmese amber specimens (Upper Cretaceous, ~99 Ma) containing feathers is herein described. Several structural types can be differentiated including flight feathers, contour feathers, ...
1 CitationsSource
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Ryan C. McKellar (KU: University of Kansas)H-Index: 13
Last. Jingmai K. O’Connor (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 26
view all 3 authors...
Abstract All of the bird specimens previously recovered from Burmese amber have belonged to either immature specimens, or small-bodied taxa belonging to Enantiornithes. This has led to questions about whether the size bias inherent to preservation in amber has limited inclusions to smaller individuals or species, or if the avifauna of the amber-producing forest had a stronger representation of small-bodied taxa than other Cretaceous assemblages. A newly discovered inclusion of a fragmentary bird...
2 CitationsSource
Abstract The discovery of five individual specimens of the spinose ear tick, Otobius megnini (Dug e s), in late Pleistocene through middle Holocene deposits of the Paisley Caves site highlights an interesting aspect of prehistoric life not ordinarily visible through the analysis of traditional archaeological artifacts. A review of the literature provides ample evidence to postulate how the tick remains got into the cave deposits, and also implies the possibility of host-switching behavior in thi...
#1Sandra EnríquezH-Index: 2
#2Ricardo Guerrero (Central University of Venezuela)H-Index: 12
Last. Washington Benítez-OrtizH-Index: 11
view all 7 authors...
PURPOSE: In Ecuador, knowledge of the diversity and geographic distribution of ticks, as well as their importance as vectors, is scarce. Within the family Ixodidae, the genus Amblyomma is the most diverse and parasitizes wild and domestic animals. This genus is represented by 19 species in Ecuador, 12 of which occur in the continental territory and 7 in the Galapagos Islands. In this way, the objective of this work was to update the diversity of ticks reported for Ecuador on wild and domestic an...
#1David Peris (University of Bonn)H-Index: 1
#2Josef JelínekH-Index: 1
Abstract Evidence of behavior is rarely found in fossil record. Here we describe two new species in Coleoptera tentatively described in Kateretidae based on two syninclusions (co-occurrences of multiple individuals) from mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber (Myanmar). Cretaretes minimus gen. et sp. nov. is described based on 41 fossil beetle specimens together in one piece of fossil resin and Eoceniretes antiquus sp. nov. is also described based on 41 fossil beetle specimens together in another piece of ...
1 CitationsSource
#1Yanxuan ZhangH-Index: 9
#2Xia ChenH-Index: 6
Last. Min LiuH-Index: 2
view all 16 authors...
Predatory mites (Acari: Phytoseiidae) are the most important beneficial arthropods used in augmentative biological pest control of protected crops around the world. However, the genomes of mites are far less well understood than those of insects and the evolutionary relationships among mite and other chelicerate orders are contested, with the enigmatic origin of mites at one of the centres in discussion of the evolution of Arachnida. We here report the 173 Mb nuclear genome (from 51.75 Gb pairs ...
1 CitationsSource
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Ryan C. McKellar (KU: University of Kansas)H-Index: 13
Last. Huijuan Mai (Yunnan University)H-Index: 1
view all 5 authors...
Since the first skeletal remains of avians preserved in amber were described in 2016, new avian remains trapped in Cretaceous-age Burmese amber continue to be uncovered, revealing a diversity of skeletal and feather morphologies observed nowhere else in the Mesozoic fossil record. Here we describe a foot with digital proportions unlike any previously described enantiornithine or Mesozoic bird. No bones are preserved in the new specimen but the outline of the foot is recorded in a detailed skin s...
4 CitationsSource
#2Diying Huang (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Last. Chenyang Cai (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
view all 3 authors...
ABSTRACTWith four genera and some 330 extant species, the Trogidae are a small group of scarabaeoid beetles that feed on hard keratinous tissue. Here, the first hide beetle from mid-Cretaceous Burm...
#1Mackenzie L. Kwak (NUS: National University of Singapore)H-Index: 4
#2Maosheng Foo (NUS: National University of Singapore)
Last. Muhammad Ghufran Tahir (National Parks Board)
view all 8 authors...
Interactions between ticks and crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators, caiman, and gharials) are poorly studied but may have significant bearing on the ecology and health of these reptiles. The first record of tick infestation of the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is reported along with the first case of infestation by Amblyomma cordiferum on Cuvier’s dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus). A review is also provided of tick-crocodilian interactions with a concise host-parasite index.