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RE: Dinosaur "fleas" misidentified? (free pdf)
Gotta say that Gao et al.'s response to Dittmar et al.'s criticisms seems
valid. I'm no entomologist, but Dittmar et al. sound like BANDits when they
say the fossils differ from crown fleas (with no alternative identification
proposed) and state that each proposed flea-like character is individually
found in other insects without considering the character evidence as a whole.
> Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2016 19:53:37 -0800
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Dinosaur "fleas" misidentified? (free pdf)
> Ben Creisler
> A new paper in open access:
> Katharina Dittmar , Qiyun Zhu, Michael W. Hastriter & Michael F. Whiting
> On the probability of dinosaur fleas.
> BMC Evolutionary Biology (advance online publication)
> DOI: 10.1186/s12862-015-0568-x
> 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.