All of these bites are caused by women, who have the perfect oral anatomy that men don’t.
But things weren’t always like this. Researchers said they found two ancient mosquito fossils of two males preserved in two pieces of amber dating back to the Cretaceous period of 130 million years. The city of Hammanah in Lebanon.
What surprised them was that they had long, piercing and sucking mouthparts that we now only see in females.
“It’s clearly a blood vessel,” said paleontologist Danny Azar of Lebanon University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology.
“So this is a great discovery in mosquito evolutionary history,” said Azar, lead author of the study published this week in the journal Current Biology.
Two fossilized mosquitoes from the same extinct species are similar in size and appearance to modern mosquitoes, but the mouthparts they used to obtain blood were smaller compared to today’s female mosquitoes.
Azar said: “Mosquitoes are among the most popular blood feeders for humans and most vertebrates on Earth, and they transmit a limited number of parasites and diseases to their hosts.”
He continued: “Only pregnant female mosquitoes suck blood because their eggs need protein to grow. Infertile males and females eat some nectar from plants. Some males have no food at all.”
Males of some flying insects, such as the tsetse fly, feed on blood, but this is not the case for modern-day mosquitoes.
“Finding this behavior in the Cretaceous is a big surprise,” said study co-author André Neal, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
The researchers said they suspect that mosquitoes may have evolved from insects that do not feed on blood. They hypothesize that mouthparts adapted to suck blood were first used to pierce plants to access nutrient fluids.
The discovery “reveals that the first mosquitoes were all blood-feeders, regardless of whether they were male or female, and that the blood-swallowing trait was later lost in males, possibly due to flowering and the emergence of contemporary plants,” Azar said. Lebanese Amber.”
Although these are very ancient fossils, the researchers said that mosquitoes may have appeared millions of years ago.
Molecular evidence suggests that mosquitoes appeared during the Jurassic period, which lasted from about 200 million to 145 million years ago.
There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes in the world, and these insects are found everywhere except Antarctica.
Some of them become vectors for malaria, yellow fever, Zika fever, dengue fever and other diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria kills more than 400,000 people annually, most of them children under the age of five.
But on the other hand, mosquitoes help purify the water of ponds, lakes and rivers, Neal said.
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