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Re: dino-lice

T. Michael Keesey <keesey@gmail.com> wrote:

> There is a gigantic*, putative phthirapteran species known from
> Mesozoic fossils, although its relationships are not well understood.
> Saurodectes vranskyi, from the Early Cretaceous of Siberia (Zaza
> Formation), was about 1.7 cm long and had strangely large eyes for a
> louse. (There's a good photo of the specimen in Grimaldi & Engels'
> excellent book, Evolution of the Insects.)
> * Gigantic for a louse, anyway.

You have to wonder if there were insectivores back in the Mesozoic
that specialized in picking giant lice off dinosaurs, especially
sauropods and hadrosaurs.  Maybe pterosaurs and (later) birds?

Or perhaps there were small, non-avian dinosaurs that did the job at
ground level - the dinosaurian equivalent of cleaning stations, where
big sharks get groomed by little fish that nibble on the sharks'
parasites and dead skin.  Alvarezsaurs might fit fit the bill - using
their stubby claws to prise out juicy parasites from the hide of a
reclining sauropod or tyrannosaur, with the parasite then gobbled up
by the alvarezsaur's weak jaws.  All speculation, of course...