COLUMBUS, Ohio - A 90-million-year-old tick recently found in the heart of New Jersey has left entomologists scratching their heads.
The tick is the oldest representative of the order Parasitiformes, increasing the order's age by 50 million years, said Hans Klompen, an assistant professor of entomology at Ohio State University.
Tick experts currently believe that these arachnids evolved in South America.
"The idea that ticks originated in South America has not been helped by this find," Klompen said. "The specimen is old enough that it should not have been found in New Jersey."
Klompen describes the New Jersey tick, formally called Carios jerseyi, in the current issue of the journal Annals of the Entomological Society of America. He co-authored the paper with David Grimaldi of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. In the mid-1990s, workers from the museum discovered the tick - along with several other species of plants and animals - in an 80-pound amber outcrop excavated from a vacant lot in central New Jersey. The museum asked Klompen to describe and categorize the tick.