News / Science & Technology

Vampire-Like Bat Fly Carried Malaria 20 Million Years Ago

This is the only known fossil of a bat fly, a specimen at least 20 million years old that carried malaria and fed on the blood of bats.
This is the only known fossil of a bat fly, a specimen at least 20 million years old that carried malaria and fed on the blood of bats.

U.S.-based scientists say analysis of the only-known fossil of a blood-sucking bat fly reveals the vampire-like parasites were malaria carriers at least 20 million years ago.  The unique specimen was found in the Dominican Republic.

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) were able to study the tiny bat fly in detail because it was perfectly preserved in fossilized tree sap known as amber.  The scientists say discovering a malaria-carrying insect encased in amber 20 to 30 million years ago is further evidence of how long the highly-infectious disease has been prevalent in the Western Hemisphere.

The particular species of prehistoric bat fly found in the amber is now extinct, but modern species of bat flies are found worldwide and they also carry malaria.  

The OSU scientists say bat flies exclusively live in the fur or on the wing membranes of bats, and only leave the host animal to mate.  Most likely, the fossilized insect they studied was searching for a mate when it became stuck and entombed in oozing tree sap millions of years ago.

The researchers say the bat fly is an example of how animal species co-evolve with one another.   Bats first evolved some 50 million years ago, and for about half that time, bat flies have been adapting along with their flying mammal hosts and feasting on their blood.

The new Oregon State University study is published in the journals, Systematic Parasitology, and Parasites and Vectors.

Malaria is caused by blood parasites that are spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects, such as bat flies.

Malaria afflicts some 216 million people in 106 countries worldwide.  Although death rates have decreased in the last decade, the World Health Organization says malaria still claimed 655,000 lives in 2010.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid