These silk-wrapped check was reinforced by the sap, which eventually fossilized as amber. Credit: University of Kansas
Imagine your worst day ever, preserved for eternity. That is what happened with a very unhappy tick 100 million years ago.
First, the unfortunate arthropods stumbled into a spider web. The spider scurried over, swaddling the trouble tick in the separating layers of silk. As if that wasn’t bad enough, things suddenly took a turn for the (even) worse. Sticky sap dripped on the tick, seal it in an airtight blob that eventually hardened in a orange graf. And that is where the tick remained to this day, with all the unfortunate details of the last moments, frozen in place and on display forever.
Although a terrible episode for the tick, this was a major discovery for the scientists; it is the oldest example of a preserved tick in the fossils, and the only known fossil of a tick monster, which was caught by a spider, researchers reported in a new study. [Photos: Amber Retains Chalk Lizards]
Amber-trapped character are exceptionally rare. Hardened amber starts as a tacky tree resin, so that the creatures caught tend to live in or around the bases of the trees. Character, on the other hand, usually stick to grasses on the ground, where they can latch onto juicy hosts for a blood meal. But this tick went the trees — and it was a decision that the orphans would regret.
The researchers identified the tick as belonging to the family of hard ticks” Ixodidae. Like other hard sign, it had a hard shell on his back is compressed by animals that are attached to.
In the amber, the tick was swaddled in the masses of filaments. Mould can also allow for delicate threads, but the branching pattern of the threads and the absence of a fungal infection drops told the scientists that the strings were made of silk, probably unspooled by a spider.
But was the tick packaged to be the spider’s dinner? Not per se; it is possible that the spin is not enough to eat, a sign, according to the study.
Some spiders live today, do, eat, draw, but if the Chalk-spider is not caught in amber in addition to her imprisonment, it is impossible to tell what kind it was and whether it is a tick-eater.
Another possibility is that the spider spun his side net to immobilize the tick so it would not wreck the carefully constructed web, the authors of the research reported.
Suspended in time, at this moment, millions of years ago produced the worst possible outcome for the tick. But it also offers a fascinating overview of the life-and-death struggle of the species in the distant past, said the study co-author Paul Selden, a professor in geology at the University of Kansas.
“It’s really just an interesting story — a piece of the frozen behavior, and an interaction between two organisms,” he said in a statement.
The findings are published online June 13 in the journal Cretaceous Research.
Original article on Live Science.