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RE: Mosquitoes

I have been following the discussion on Mosquitoes  and their potential 
hosts and the associated chances of extracting Dino' DNA etc etc. Some 
possible sources of the DNA have attributed to different insect groups. The 
most commonly occurring insect group which would almost certainly contain 
Dino' blood remnants has not been mentioned, the Diptera: Ceratopogonidae, 
or biting midges. Whilst not found in every piece of amber they are 
certainly a frequent occurrence.

Ceratopogonidae are frequently found in Cretaceous amber and in fact the 
author A. Borkent has had a book published: 'The Biting Midges in the 
Cretaceous Amber of North America'. These flies occur much more frequently 
than Mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, which frankly are as rare as hens teeth 
in any amber deposit not just Cretaceous.

In the front of Borkent's book is a rather nice illustration showing a 
Dinosaur being harassed by a mass of midges and the speculative idea that 
for most part the eye area provided the sight for primary attack.

Well that my two penneth as we say in England, I can give more details 
about the book if your are interested.

Garry Platt MEd. MIPD. FISM.
Senior Consultant
CMTC Management Centre
Woodland Grange
Old Milverton Lane
Royal Leamington Spa
Warwickshire                    E Mail: garry@gplatt.demon.co.uk
CV32 6RN                        Tel No: (UK) 01926 336621
United Kingdom                          Fax No: (UK) 01926 450648

-----Original Message-----
From:   jamolnar@juno.com [SMTP:jamolnar@juno.com]
Sent:   25 April 1997 04:00
To:     Bettyc@flying-goat.com
Cc:     dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject:        Re: Mosquitoes
Importance:     High

I agree other insects would be useful, but not all of them would feed on
dinos *plus* get caught in amber all that easily.  It would depend on 1)
accident (some insects just happen to land on tree sap more than others);
2) life cycle (some insects seek out pine trees to lay eggs, pupate,
court, or mate or some other aspect of their life cycle and get caught
more often than others), 3) food (the insect actually feeds on tree sap
or uses the sap as nest construction material, then gets caught).

Mosquitoes are the most likely [than the others you mention] to both bite
and get caught in pine sap.  They seek out water-filled hollows in trees
to lay their eggs, or the shade of trees to await a warm-blooded animal
that also seeks shade, and some may feed on runny tree sap if available.
Biting flies are a close second, though they seek out decaying flesh,
dung, or plants to lay their eggs in.  Leeches are aquatic and shouldn't
be anywhere near a tree to get caught in sap.  Ticks prefer fields where
they can climb a grass blade and catch an animal.   Lice would only be in
a tree if their host was arboreal.  Lice are very species specific, and
bird lice stick with birds and their nests.  Now, if one crawled out of a
bird nest it might get caught in amber, but dinosaur lice?  Hmm, maybe
the plant eating sauropods could have lice that use trees as a staging
ground to hop from one animal to another.  But it's easier for lice to
just hop from mother to young, or herd-mate to herd-mate.  Fleas just hop
everywhere and take blood from any warm body.  They tend to ignore trees.

Oysters in amber!?!?!  Unless the pine tree was being inundated with
tides enough for the oysters to cement themselves to the base of the
trunk, then get covered with sap as the tree died...? Interesting!!!
Pines do hang on along the river banks here, in tidal areas brackish
enough that oysters live just off shore.

Here's a possibility: the dinosaur makes a habit of rubbing against a
pine tree, then this breaks the bark so sap flows, then the
fleas/lice/ticks get entombed... I'll buy that.  But mosquitoes and
biting flies are bigger, take bigger blood meals, and probably have
better odds than the arthropods you mention to get the job done.
I still feel the odds are *very* nil, even with mosquitoes.

I don't know if varanids have dermal parasites.  Any reptile expert out

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.

On Mon, 21 Apr 1997 19:54:55 -0700 Bettyc <Bettyc@flyinggoat.com> writes:
>why does Hammond have to restrict himself to mosquitoes in amber?
>What about ticks, leeches, maggots, fleas, bloodflies, and lice?
>I resqued a red-tailed hawk today that had been hit by a car (long
>story-bird's probably going to be re-released tomorrow) and MAN! that
>thing was crawling with bird-lice.  If dinosaurs had folds of skin
>could hide ticks or lice, or prickly/bristly somethings that small
>crawling insects could take refuge in, why not have body vermin that
>occasionally fell off into sap while feeding on dinos?
>Birds certainly have more than their fair share of vermin.
>Do modern veranid lizards bear body vermin?  Does anyone know?
>           Betty Cunningham
>the reply-to in this e-mail is a spam trap
>remove the dash in flyinggoat in e-mail replies