SAV Discovery: World of Dinosaurs Already Home to Viruses, Too

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A reconstruction of Tyrannosaurus Rex (source: bbc.co.uk)

Bratislava, August 11 (TASR) – The world of dinosaurs was already a world with viruses, maintains Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) palaeontologist Peter Vrsansky, whose team discovered a preserved Cretaceous cockroach displaying symptoms of viral infection.

“In a 98 million year old amber, we have found ineffably precious, perfectly preserved nymphs as well as adult specimen of a new predatory species of cockroach. One of the adults displays symptoms of viral infection. He lacks the rear pair of wings and the front pair is deformed,” said Vrsansky.

The deformation and lacking wings are concomitant symptoms of iflaviruses, a group of RNA viruses, out of which the most recognisable is the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) that is the bane of beekeeping. “It’s a primitive virus and there’s a theory that this group is significantly older than the discovered evidence in question. Thanks to these findings, scientists can postulate with almost complete certainty that the world of dinosaurs already had viruses in it,” added the SAV scientist.