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Oldest mosquito fossils upend blood-sucking evolution theory

Still Waters

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Two mosquito fossils, preserved in Lebanese amber, are challenging scientists’ understanding about how blood feeding developed in the insects.

Scientists have described two fossilised male mosquitoes, well-kept in Lebanese amber from the early-Cretaceous (a period lasting from about 145 million years ago to 100 million years ago), publishing their findings in Current Biology.

The fossils are significant for two reasons: their age, and their mouthparts.

Based on molecular dating, scientists believe mosquitoes date back to the Jurassic, about 197.5 million years ago. 

However, the early fossil record is sparse. Previously, the earliest mosquito fossil was from the mid-Cretaceous. This makes the newly-described mosquito fossils (from the genus Libanoculex) the oldest known specimens, some 30 million years earlier.



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