Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dinosaurs had Fleas Too

It takes a big flea to bite a dinosaur
There are species of flea evolved to feed on most terrestrial animals: cat fleas feed predominantly on cats, dog fleas feed predominantly on dogs, human fleas feed predominantly on humans and bird fleas feed predominantly on birds.

It seems that in the Jurassic period, even the dinosaurs had dinosaur fleas. And the dinosaur flea was huge, compared with its tiny modern descendants. Dinosaur bloodsuckers were 2cm long – eight times the size of today’s fleas, researchers report in the journal Nature.

Flea fossils 125 million to 165 million years old found in China are evidence of the oldest fleas. Their very long proboscis, or hypodermic needle-like mouth, had sharp saw-like serrated edges for cutting through the tough hide of their dinosaur hosts. But the ancient fleas had one big difference from modern ones: They could not jump the way modern fleas do.

Perhaps today’s fleas seem less of a problem if one thinks of what a dinosaur flea could do to you if they were still around.

What type of dinosaur always has a word to say?
A Thesaurus.

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