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Re: Another paper about insect parasites on dinosaurs, pterosaurs

Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:

>  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....

The "flea-like" _Pseudopulex_ appears to be a stem-siphonapteran.  The
"giant fleas" described (but not named) in the Nature paper are
explicitly called stem-group fleas (i.e., stem-siphonapterans), as has
_Tarwinia_.  So all these insects seem to belong to the same part of
the tree.

But whether or not _Pseudopulex_, _Tarwinia_ and the critters
described in the Nature paper are "fleas" or "proto-fleas" or
"flea-like" is a matter of semantics.  They are related to modern
fleas (the crown-group) in the same way that _Archaeopteryx_ is
related to modern birds.

A similar question surrounds _Archaeopteryx_ and whether it should be
called a "bird" or just a "proto-bird" (or something like it).  But
this is merely a matter of semantics, not phylogenetics.