Dinosaurs were plagued with monstrous fleas
Prehistoric pests carried the sting of a hypodermic needle
Dinosaurs, like our friendly neighborhood pests, were plagued by fleas. However - these prehistoric pests were not out common, everyday blood sucker. These fleas were gigantic, and impaled the dinosaur's soft underbellies and feasted on their blood.
Around ten times the size of the modern-day fleas, these insects had an extra-painful bite because of their huge suckers.
"These were insects much larger than modern fleas and from the size of their proboscis we can tell they would have been mean," George Poinar, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University says.
"It would have felt about like a hypodermic needle going in - a flea shot, if not a flu shot. We can be thankful our modern fleas are not nearly this big."
"You wouldn't talk much about the good old days if you got bit by this insect. We can be thankful our modern fleas are not nearly this big."
The fossilized remains of these fleas were found by Chinese scientists who reported their discovery in Current Biology. Researchers agree that theses fleas were more likely to be a separate and now extinct kind of pest.
Pseudopulex jurassicus and Pseudopulex magnus had bodies that were flat, like a bedbug or tick, and long claws that could reach over the scales on the skin of dinosaurs so they could stay latched on while sucking their blood. Modern fleas are more laterally compressed, have shorter antennae and are able to move quickly through the fur or feathers of their victims.
An international expert in ancient and extinct insect life forms, Poinar wrote a commentary on the findings in Current Biology. He said that 94 percent of the 2,300 known species of modern fleas attack mammals while the rest feed on birds.
In contrast, the "flea-osaurus" was adapted to feeding on the biggest of the thunder lizards. The prehistoric bugs were able to burrow in and latch on to the softer skin between the scales of massive dinosaurs.
Modern fleas, the report noted, have done plenty of damage. Hardly a dog or cat alive has escaped their attack, and they brought mankind such diseases as bubonic plague, which has killed 75 million people.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Fleas, dinosaurs, fossils, prehistory
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