Adam had’em–and so apparently did the dinosaurs. Fossils of giant fleas and flea-like parasites dating to the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods in China are reported by George Poinar, long-time paleoentomologist and fossil DNA researcher; and by Tai-Ping Gao in Beijing. Poinar popularized the idea that fossil insects trapped in amber might have sucked dinosaur blood and could yield dino DNA, a key inspiration for Crichton’s Jurassic Park.
Now we have giant dino fleas, as described on NPR. Poinar thinks the fleas don’t look like jumpers, more like crawlers, with a giant proboscis that could jab through the dinosaur’s scales. We know that dinosaurs had lots of worms and other digestive parasites, whose reproductive forms could have come from the fleas.
Parasites are getting a lot of attention lately, especially since some of them may actually assist their hosts. But more often we hear of the horrific illnesses they cause, such as leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.
How much do you think parasites would have affected the dinosaurs?