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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Nov 12;110(46):18496-500. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1310885110. Epub 2013 Oct 14.

Hemoglobin-derived porphyrins preserved in a Middle Eocene blood-engorged mosquito.

Author information

1
Departments of Paleobiology and Mineral Sciences, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC 20013.

Abstract

Although hematophagy is found in ~14,000 species of extant insects, the fossil record of blood-feeding insects is extremely poor and largely confined to specimens identified as hematophagic based on their taxonomic affinities with extant hematophagic insects; direct evidence of hematophagy is limited to four insect fossils in which trypanosomes and the malarial protozoan Plasmodium have been found. Here, we describe a blood-engorged mosquito from the Middle Eocene Kishenehn Formation in Montana. This unique specimen provided the opportunity to ask whether or not hemoglobin, or biomolecules derived from hemoglobin, were preserved in the fossilized blood meal. The abdomen of the fossil mosquito was shown to contain very high levels of iron, and mass spectrometry data provided a convincing identification of porphyrin molecules derived from the oxygen-carrying heme moiety of hemoglobin. These data confirm the existence of taphonomic conditions conducive to the preservation of biomolecules through deep time and support previous reports of the existence of heme-derived porphyrins in terrestrial fossils.

PMID:
24127577
PMCID:
PMC3831950
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1310885110
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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