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Re: Dino-Tick/Mother of all Ticks



Brent,
There are certainly taxa of mites that feast on feathers, and there is no doubt in my mind that feathered non-avian dinosaurs were the hosts to such mites.
However, the subgroup of mites which we call ticks (Ixodida) feed on blood, so the closest they would come to the feathers themselves might be the feather follicles in the skin of birds (and their feathered non-avian relatives). I suspect that all dinosaur groups suffered from ticks in the Cretaceous.
I am no tick expert, but they usually drop off the host once they have a full meal of blood. Therefore, the idea suggested in this report (that a seafaring bird picked up a tick in South America and flew to New Jersey) seems very improbable at best. Seems far more likely this particular kind of tick lived on birds in New Jersey at the time.
As I noted in my other posting last night, ticks were probably around long before the Upper Cretaceous (how much earlier is certainly debatable), and they probably had a nearly worldwide distribution by that time (although tick origins probably were in Gondwanaland). There were probably lots of ticks in North America by that time, and there doesn't seem to be any good reason to assume this tick fed on any particular kind of bird, much less that a migratory bird carried it from South America to New Jersey. This tick is a rare find, but to suggest (as this report does) that ticks were rare in North America in the Upper Cretaceous doesn't make any sense to me.
Cheers, Ken
********************************************************
From: "Brent Jones" <bjones@mail.cosi.org>
Reply-To: bjones@mail.cosi.org
To: <4mjmu@home.com>, <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Subject: Re: Dino-Tick/Mother of all Ticks
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 08:37:26 -0500

>>> M Murphy <4mjmu@home.com> 03/29/01 07:59PM sent the following URL:

http://cbc.ca/cgi-bin/templates/view.cgi?/news/2001/03/28/tick010328

Reading the attached story, it seems these ticks were specialized feeders - they attached themselves to featers. Therefore, the writer continues, it is thought that they fed on "sea-faring birds". What is to stop them from attaching themselves to some of the feathered non-avian dinosaurs thought to have been running around at the time?

Brent : )

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