Researchers have found an extremely rare fossil of a 99-million-year-old tick wrapped in spider silk and wrapped in tree resin. The discovery reveals the age-old interaction of an unfortunate tick and an uncompromising spider.
( Jason Dunlop )
An extremely unfortunate tick that experienced the worst day of her life nearly 1
German researchers have come across a 99-million-year-old man ticks, wrapped in spider silk and stowed forever in one piece of hardened tree resin, better known as amber
Ticks from the Cretaceous period would normally be found in plants and shrubs in the Hope to find a small dinosaur to cling to and from whose blood they would feed. For some unknown reason, however, the unfortunate creature was caught in a spider web and somehow locked in amber.
"The main message is the rarity and unusualness of this discovery," says Jason Dunlop, senior researcher and curator of arachnids at the Berlin Museum of Natural History
Spider silk wrapped tick preserved in amber
The fossil was unearthed in Myanmar, where the amber trade presumably Muller came across the amber and sold it after discussions with Dunlop over the scientific and historical value of the fossil to the citizen of Berlin natural history museum already in the first century after Christ.
To make sure that the material that ticks the tick is spider web and not some mushrooms that have grown around Englisch: bio-pro.de/en/region/stern/magazine/…0/index.html and his team have teamed up with tick specialist Lidia Chitimia – Dobler of the German Federal Institute for Microbiology, which says that fungi grow out of the tick openings and spread around the body. Chitimia-Dobler says there is no "Ground Zero" mushroom for the packaging material and believes that it really is spider silk.
How did the tick fall into the spider web?
Exactly how the tick fell into a spider web and then into tree resin we may never know. It may be that the tick climbed onto a tree to feed on the blood of dinosaurs dwelling in the trees before it was caught by a spider and firmly tied in spider silk. The attacking process is called immobilization cladding, which makes the ticks harmless before the spider sinks its teeth into its prey and checks if it is tasty.
However, if the spider has somehow decided that the tick does not match their usual dinner course, the creature might fall into a tree resin pool instead. Of course, it is also possible that the spider has planned to feast on the tick, but not before its network of tree resin has been shrouded.
We know that modern spiders and ticks fight from time to time, but the researchers say they may not be able to identify which species was responsible for the unfortunate end of the tick.
Preserved remains of the ancient world have been found in amber pieces in the past, including insects in spider webs, juveniles, and even a feathered dinosaur tail. Ticks, however, are very rare, even more ticks that have interacted with spiders and been trapped in their web.
The study is published in the journal Cretaceous Research .
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