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Another paper about insect parasites on dinosaurs, pterosaurs



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


At the moment, I'm itching to know the relationship between this paper
and the recent paper in Nature about the same kind of insects but
which did not provided formal names. The teams of researchers are not
the same. The Nature authors used specimens from a Nanjing institution
and the Current Biology authors are from Beijing institutions and use
Beijing-housed specimens. The Nature paper said the critters were
fleas but this paper only says that the insects are "flea-like." The
critters in the images in the two articles look pretty similar to me
but I'm not an expert....



Tai-ping Gao, Chung-kun Shih, Xing Xu, Shuo Wang &  Dong Ren (2012)
Mid-Mesozoic Flea-like Ectoparasites of Feathered or Haired Vertebrates.
Current Biology (advance online publication)
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.012,
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212002692


Parasite-host associations among insects and mammals or birds are well
attended by neontological studies. An Eocene bird louse compression
fossil and several flea specimens from Eocene and Oligocene ambers,
reported to date, are exceptionally similar to living louse and flea
taxa. But the origin, morphology, and early evolution of parasites and
their associations with hosts are poorly known due to sparse records
of putative ectoparasites with uncertain classification in the
Mesozoic, most lacking mouthpart information and other critical
details of the head morphology. Here we present two primitive
flea-like species assigned to the Pseudopulicidae Gao, Shih et Ren
familia nova (fam. nov.), Pseudopulex jurassicus Gao, Shih et Ren
genus novum et species nova (gen. et sp. nov) from the Middle Jurassic
and P. magnus Gao, Shih et Ren sp. nov. from the Early Cretaceous in
China. They exhibit many features of ectoparasitic insects. Large body
size and long serrated stylets for piercing tough and thick skin or
hides of hosts suggest that these primitive ectoparasites might have
lived on and sucked the blood of relatively large hosts, such as
contemporaneous feathered dinosaurs and/or pterosaurs or medium-sized
mammals (found in the Early Cretaceous, but not the Middle Jurassic).