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Science

Huge Jurassic Fleas May Have Fed On Dinosaurs 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-collar dept.
ananyo writes "Primitive fleas were built to sup on dinosaur blood in the Jurassic period, more than 150 million years ago. The potential host–parasite relationship has been uncovered thanks to a set of beautifully preserved fossils found in China. Today, the varied group of parasitic insects known as fleas frequently infests mammals and birds. But little is known about their origins. Researchers have now extended the history of the parasites by at least 60 million years. Whereas modern fleas range from 1 to 10 millimeters in length, the Jurassic and Cretaceous species were between 8 and 21 millimeters. The Jurassic and Cretaceous fleas also lacked the spring-legged, jumping specializations of modern species, and their siphoning mouthparts were armored structures studded with saw-like projections, unlike the smooth jaws of modern fleas."
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Huge Jurassic Fleas May Have Fed On Dinosaurs

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  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:08PM (#39202829)

    Is there anything from that era that wasn't super sized? Are the Q slowly changing the gravitational constant of the universe over time? TELL ME!

    • Re:Big (Score:5, Funny)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:11PM (#39202863)
      I think I read bacteria were the size of pancakes. And pancakes were the size of the manhole covers. Libraries of Congress were smaller then though.
    • Re:Big (Score:4, Funny)

      by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:14PM (#39202897) Homepage Journal

      Is there anything from that era that wasn't super sized?

      Fast food meals?

      Are the Q slowly changing the gravitational constant of the universe over time?

      Oh look, the monkey is capable of primitive thinking!

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Fast food meals?

        Some of those bastards were pretty fast... and just about everything was food.

        Oh look, the monkey is capable of primitive thinking!

        LOL. Being in the IT department we actually have a poster with that title :)

    • Re:Big (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WTFmonkey (652603) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:20PM (#39202955)
      More O2 and CO2, at double the atmospheric pressure of today, so higher partial pressures of oxygen and fewer problems getting oxygen to the extremities. I think.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Oh now wait a second that is not going to help with square/cube law bone strength side effects, unless you're messing around with the gravitational constant.

        Knowing how rough farm livestock has it, I've always wondered how dinosaurs survived... like tip one over and its dead, all bones smashed. The TV imaginative animations that show dinos fighting like wolves might not be terribly realistic if simply tipping over means all ribs smashed.

        • Oh now wait a second that is not going to help with square/cube law bone strength side effects, unless you're messing around with the gravitational constant.

          Fleas are insects (I think. They're creepy crawly critters of one kind or another), so they don't have bones.

          One may make a reasonable assumption that it works the same way for a chitinous exoskeleton. But given that large insects are fairly common in the fossil record, it would seem that something other than mechanical factors is stunting current art

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Stunted? Who's stunted?

            http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/24/147367644/six-legged-giant-finds-secret-hideaway-hides-for-80-years?ps=cprs

        • by geekoid (135745)

          That is a gross misunderstanding of the square cube law and it's application to these large species.

          Seriously dude, did you take ANY science after 8th grade? or are you from Kansas?

        • You might not have noticed, but all the big dinosaurs are long dead. It's probably because they didn't work that well. Only the little ones, like chickens, survived.
          • Re:Big (Score:5, Interesting)

            by St.Creed (853824) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:36AM (#39206469)

            Actually, they worked amazingly well. Humans or even primates have yet to come close to the length of time they dominated the planet. Only when circumstances changed drastically, they were unable to survive.

            Humanity is ever trying to close the gap with the dinosaurs in that area but failing so far. However, the current experiment in geo-engineering are going to be quite helpful towards the goal of catching up with the dinosaurs.

        • Dinosaurs are more like birds than mammals and have different bone structures. Tip over an ostridge and see if all its bones break.
    • Its proof the 2nd law of thermodynamics is wrong: entropy is neither created nor destroyed! As we get smarter we must too get smaller.
    • by Physician (861339)
      There were giants in the earth in those days [antediluvian]; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4
  • Dino (Score:5, Funny)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:08PM (#39202831)

    I bet Fred Flintstone spent a fortune on Dino Advantix II

  • Huge? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:12PM (#39202869)

    Written as "huge" I was expecting 8 to 21 cm not 8 to 21 mm. Sooo unimpressed.

    I'm told you guys in Florida have cockroaches the size of dachshunds, that kind of scale is what I was expecting.

  • NY Bedbugs (Score:2, Funny)

    by DigiShaman (671371)

    You think that's bad. You haven't seen NY Bedbugs. Sure, they look like a normal bedbug. But these guys really take in blood. When finished, they waddle off the size of a basketball and still manage to ninja themselves out of site. You know you've been bitten when you feel light headed. But you know what the worst part of it is? You don't get paid for that "blood donation" and they always come back for more.

  • Big fleas have little fleas
    upon their backs to bite 'em;
    and little fleas have lesser fleas,
    and so, ad infinitum.

  • Can't remember the name of the story, but (much like Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder", though in a humorous vein) it involved a time traveler going back to hunt T-Rexes. He shoots and kills one, then strides towards the T-Rex to take a trophy...only to be met by a multitude of large external parasites abandoning the T-Rex and looking for a new host. Doesn't end well for the hunter. Anyone remember the name of this story?

    And, yeah, 21 mm may not sound like much, but think of dealing with a horde of inch-long

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're thinking of "Poor Little Warrior" by Brian Aldiss. One of my favorites.

      But it wasn't humorous at all. The protagonist is in a severe depression, not sure he wants to live, and tries this time safari to snap out of it.

      After he shoots the brontosaur, its parasites swarm him, snipping off his fingers, shredding his chest, etc. It takes a minute or two for him to die. Very nasty. Not really funny. But a good story.

      • Those are shit parasites. The first rule of being a parasite is you don't kill your host. The second rule is that you can break the first rule, but only if you've got another host lined up.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Hey, they had a host lined up, but their assumption that whatever killed the Tyrannosaur would be big enough for them was off. Give them a break, they're bugs!

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Brian Aldiss I believe.

      • by bfwebster (90513)

        Thanks -- you're right. It's "Poor Little Warrior" (1958) by Brian Aldiss. I suspect it was a tongue-in-cheek response to Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" (1952).

  • ... am glad I haven't seen any obligatory "overlords" posts for this story.

    Oh, wait.

  • Let's take some dinosaur blood from the fossil and merge its DNA with African frog DNA and we'll make the greatest petting zoo in the world!
  • are alive and well and now feed off our stock markets and banking sector.
  • ...in the next season of Terra Nova. If there is one.

  • by harryjohnston (1118069) <harry.maurice.johnston@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @11:21PM (#39204983) Homepage

    "Whereas modern fleas range from 1 to 10 millimeters in length ..."

    Whoa, 1cm sounds pretty darned big for a flea. That's about the same size as a typical bee. Wikipedia says fleas reach up to 3.3mm which seems more reasonable to me.

    Anybody know of a modern-day flea species that actually reaches 10mm? (What do they live on, elephants?)

    • by Truedat (2545458)

      Whoa, 1cm sounds pretty darned big for a flea. That's about the same size as a typical bee.

      That can't be right [places thumb and forefinger about a cm apart], let me check that. Ok so I couldn't persuade a bee to let me measure him but I did find a link that says they are double that at about 2cm: http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/research_regional.html [berkeley.edu]

      Jees, I can't believe I looked that fact up, pathetic!! :-)

      • Yeah, you're probably right. Let me rephrase: that's about the size of a typical housefly [wikipedia.org]. I still think it's kinda on the large size for a flea.

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