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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)
Sources
Abstract
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.
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References46
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Last. Jason A. Dunlop (Museum für Naturkunde)H-Index: 10
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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...
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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...
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#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...
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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.
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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...
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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...
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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...
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