Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some REALLY BIG bloodsuckers!

Did you read the story this week about the discovery of giant Jurassic fleas? It seems that scientists in northeastern China have found fossils of fleas from the Jurassic period! Think about that for a minute - flea fossils. Will wonders never cease?

Not only have they found these fossils but they are really, really big as fleas go. The female of the species was up to one-half inch long, a veritable giant in the world of fleas. The male was smaller but still much larger than modern fleas. In fact, these Jurassic fleas were ten times as big as today's fleas.

The scientists speculate that these giant fleas may have fed on dinosaurs. They had very elongated and sharp mouth parts made for sucking blood and it is believed that these siphons were long enough and sharp enough to have pierced the dinosaurs' leathery skin. Although there were some mammals around in the Jurassic era, they were small and probably were not hosts to the big fleas.

I am fascinated by the fact that these scientists have discovered flea fossils. Somehow I doubt that's really what they were looking for. Maybe they were hoping to find another exotic, sexy dinosaur, and, instead, they found something which preyed on the dinosaurs and probably made their lives miserable. I just never, in my wildest images of dinosaurs, ever had a vision of one scratching a flea. Who would have guessed?

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