Team under Slovak leadership discovered 98 million-year-old virus infection

Dinosaurs might have had viruses, too.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

A team of palaeontologists under the leadership of Peter Vršanský from the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) marked a great success.

They found evidence of the oldest ever-recorded viral infection. Their findings were published in the prestigious journal Palaeontographica.

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Collapse of bee colonies

“We discovered immensely precious, perfectly-preserved young and old predatory cockroaches in 98 million-year-old amber,” said team leader Vršanský, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

One of the adults showed symptoms of a viral infection, he added. The cockroach lacks hind wings and its front is deformed. These symptoms are a concomitant sign of Iflaviruses.

“The best-known from this group is the DWV virus that deforms the wings of bees and together with mites, it caused the collapse of bee colonies all over the world,” Vršanský said for SITA.

International cooperation

He added it is a primitive virus and there is an assumption that it is much older than this proof.

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“Thanks to our findings, scientists can assume that the world of dinosaurs was a world with viruses,” Vršanský explained, as quoted by SITA.

Despite the fact that hardly anybody assumes that viruses came into being only recently, Monika Hucáková, spokesperson for SAS noted, to find fossil proof of it is very demanding, especially due to its miniature size. By now, only two structures demonstrating virus capsules were described and one deformation of dinosaurs’ bones that could have been caused by a virus, she added.

An international team of scientists from Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the UK, Malaysia and China worked under the leadership of Peter Vršanský on this significant discovery.

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