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Dinosaur "fleas" misidentified? (free pdf)
A new paper in open access:
Katharina Dittmar , Qiyun Zhu, Michael W. Hastriter & Michael F. Whiting (2016)
On the probability of dinosaur fleas.
BMC Evolutionary Biology (advance online publication)
Recently, a set of publications described flea fossils from Jurassic
and Early Cretaceous geological strata in northeastern China, which
were suggested to have parasitized feathered dinosaurs, pterosaurs,
and early birds or mammals. In support of these fossils being fleas, a
recent publication in BMC Evolutionary Biology described the extended
abdomen of a female fossil specimen as due to blood feeding.
We here comment on these findings, and conclude that the current
interpretation of the evolutionary trajectory and ecology of these
putative dinosaur fleas is based on appeal to probability, rather than
evidence. Hence, their taxonomic positioning as fleas, or stem fleas,
as well as their ecological classification as ectoparasites and blood
feeders is not supported by currently available data.