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How disgusting did dinosaur diseases get?



Okay, this one doesn't mention dinosaurs directly as far as I know, but I
came across the abstract by chance (if anyone could get me the actual
article, I would be rapt!) and thought that this was _so_ cool that it had
to be shared. Cretaceous Burmese amber holds trapped particularly revolting
parasite!

Poinar, G., & R. Poinar. 2004. _Paleoleishmania proterus_ n. gen., n. sp.
(Trypanosomatidae: Kinetoplastida) from Cretaceous Burmese amber. Protist
155(3): 305-310.

A trypanosomatid (Trypanosomatidae: Kinetoplastida) associated with a
blood-filled female sand fly in Cretaceous Burmese amber, is described in
the new genus and species, _Paleoleishmania proterus_. The genus
_Paleoleishmania_ is established as a collective genus for digenetic fossil
trypanosomes associated with sand flies. Amastigotes, promastigotes and
paramastigotes are described. _Paleoleishmania proterus_ is the first fossil
kinetoplastid and provides a minimum age for the digenetic Trypanosomatidae.
Its discovery indicates that vector-borne pathogens had been established by
the Early Cretaceous.

    Trypanosomes, in case anyone isn't aware of them, are particularly nasty
protozoan parasites that cause some especially vile diseases - _Trypanosoma_
is responsible for sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle;
_Leishmania_ (I don't know if the name of the fossil implies a connection to
this genus in particular) causes leishmaniasis, rivalled only by
elephantiasis for title of 'condition most likely to scare small children',
where parts of one's body break out in sores and pustules, others swell up
to comic proportions, others just turn to mush and disintegrate away. Anyone
out there seen the infamous photo of the man whose scrotum had swollen so
much he had to carry it on a little trolley? Yep, that's what I'm talking
about.

    Cheers, and apologies to the more delicate out there for the mental
image,

        Christopher Taylor