Amber and mosquitos
Name: mike s
Date: Around 1993
What is the blood like in the Mosquitos that are preserved in
amber? Is it coagulated, decomposed, or liquid?
Hmmm. Sounds like a "Jurassic Park" question! I think you
figured out the major flaw in the reasoning behind where they got the dinosaur
DNA. The blood would most likely be coagulated after 50 million years, amber
or not. Mosquitos do secrete an anti-coagulant into their victims, to prevent
the blood from coagulating during and after their meal, and it is this
chemical which irritates us and causes the swelling and itching in a mosquito
bite. However, in a dead mosquito over time, the anticoagulant should break
down allowing the blood in it to coagulate. Try this: next time you find a
mosquito sucking your blood, let it be for a while, (resist the itch!), then
try to capture it without damaging it, maybe by trapping it in a bottle. Then
pour something syrupy into the bottle (maple syrup? sap?) to envelope the
mosquito, and let it sit a week. Now, cut the mosquito and see if liquid
blood still flows. If not, then you can write Steven Spielburg and ask if you
can be the science advisor for his next movie! But the special effects were
Well, I am no Spielberg fan, but I am not sure that it matters if
the blood is coagulated. All you need is the DNA, which might well be intact.
They certainly can do DNA fingerprint analysis from coagulated human blood,
and have gotten sequence information from mummies! Another clever bit (maybe
unintentional) is that the red blood cells from humans do not have nuclei, so
DNA would come only from the white cells; but red blood cells in reptiles (ie.
dinosaurs) do have nuclei, so more DNA would be available. So, I do not know:
lock those doors at night!
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Update: June 2012