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Dead Bugs and Poetry
Photos of insects in amber millions of years old
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Today's 3,500 species of blood sucking mosquitoes have a very rich amber record with some species found in 90 to 100 million year-old amber. DNA analysis indicates that the two Culicinae and Anophelinae subfamilies may have diverged considerably earlier, about 150 million years ago.
The most obvious feeding structure of the mosquito is the specialized proboscis adapted to piercing skin and sucking blood. In many species the female needs to obtain nutrients from a "blood meal" before she can produce eggs. Male mosquitoes are not bloodsuckers, drinking what sugary fluids are available.
Anatomically, with large compound eyes and long segmented antennae, the mosquito head is specialized for receiving sensory information and feeding. The considerably larger and bushier male antennae are critical for detecting smells of females laying eggs as well as potential hosts. They also contain auditory receptors that detect the female's characteristic whine.
The abdomen can hold three times its own weight in blood and expands considerably when a female takes a blood meal. Occasionally a blood stretched abdomen is found in amber, and such is the premise of the famous novel and movie, Jurassic Park. The dream of sequencing blood taken from an engorged mosquito trapped in amber continues...