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Re: Pterosaur Ptarasites
Jerald Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Vransky, P., Ren, D., and Shih, C.
> 2010. Nakridletia ord. n. -- enigmatic insect parasites
> support sociality and endothermy of pterosaurs. AMBA
> Projekty 8(1): 1-16.
I don't have this paper, and I also don't know what AMBA stands for. I do have
the 1992 paper that originally described _Strashila incredibilis_. This and
subsequent papers have linked _Strashila_ to the mecopteroid complex of insect
'orders', especially to the fleas (Siphonaptera). In fact, the fleas
themselves appear to have originated from within the scorpionfly order
(Mecoptera), making the latter paraphyletic.
_Strashila_ (Jurassic, Siberia) has been interpreted as a parasite because it
has features typical of extant ectoparasites: piercing-and sucking mouthparts,
compact antennae, long legs tipped with grasping claws, and a distensible
abdomen. The reason why _Strashila_ is thought to have specifically been a
pterosaur parasite ('ptarasite') is because of the dorsoventral compression of
the body, and this insect's superficial resemblance to extant bat parasites
that are specialized for clinging to the short, sparse hair on the wing. These
features are also seen in another parasitic insect, the Early Cretaceous
flea(?) _Saurophthirus_, also from Siberia. By contrast, _Tarwinia_ from the
Early Cretaceous of Australia, has a body that is laterally compressed,
indicating an ability to move through long, dense hair - as in extant fleas,
which it more closely resembles.
However, we do know there were gliding mammals in the Mesozoic
(_Volaticotherium_). So pterosaurs weren't the only endothermic vertebrates
with membranous wings available to blood-sucking critters like _Strashila_ and