Science Tick Wrapped in Spider Silk Found Trapped in Amber—A First

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    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    Some 99 million years ago in what's now northern Myanmar, a tick enjoyed a spectacular bout of bad luck.

    Normally, the tick would have been hiding in vegetation, hoping to latch onto a small mammal or a feathered dinosaur to suck its blood. But this tick somehow fell into a spider web, and the resident spider promptly straitjacketed its arachnid cousin in loops of silk, either to save it as a snack or to immobilize it as a precaution.

    We know this because the tick's day got even worse. As it strained to free itself, the ancient tick became enveloped in oozing tree resin—forever preserving its silken struggle in a chunk of amber.

    The bizarre fossil, described in April in the journal Cretaceous Research, is the first of its kind ever found. Other amber fossils have preserved spider silk, including bits of spider webs that contain insects. But few fossil ticks have been recovered before, and none preserve evidence of spiders and ticks interacting.

    “The main message is the rarity and unusualness of this discovery,” says study leader Jason Dunlop, the curator for arachnids at the Berlin Museum of Natural History.

    “It is always fascinating to me to capture evidence of behavior such as prey wrapping in the fossil record,” adds Paula Cushing, an arachnologist at the Denver Museum of Natural Sciences who wasn't involved with the study.

    Read more here. (National Geographic)

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