Feeds

GIANT blood-guzzling Jurassic fleas ambushed dino prey

Boffins uncover critters armed with piercing straws

Application security programs and practises

Hollywood producers will be on high alert for the next Jurassic Park blockbuster script after boffins found fossils of giant prehistoric fleas. The monster bloodsuckers were thought to have used ruggedised straw-like mouths to prey on dinosaurs.

In a study published on science journal Nature on Wednesday, University of Kansas palaeoentomologist Michael Engel and colleagues Diying Huang, Chenyang Cai, Hao Wu and André Nel explain how the discovery sheds light on the little-known origins of today’s fleas.

The perfectly preserved fossils were found in the 165-million-year-old Jurassic deposits in Daohugou, northeast China, and the 125-million-year-old Cretaceous strata at Huangbanjigou, China. The rocks reveal fleas of up to 2cm - double the size of today’s pesky critters - according to a report.

More interestingly they differ in not having the same highly developed jumping hind legs of their modern descendants and are therefore likely to have had to ambush their prey instead of jumping relatively long distances to attach themselves onto a victim.

In terms of what this prey was, the stone-collecting boffins believe the fleas’ chops offer up the biggest clue – described as “stout and elongate sucking siphons”.

“The mouthparts are certainly overkill for piercing the hides of early mammals and birds,” Engel told Nature. “It really appears as though they were specialised for working their way into some heavy hides, such as those on dinosaurs.”

The research goes further to suggest these dinosaurs were of the “hairy or feathered” variety, and that the fleas gravitated towards mammals and birds later in the Cenozoic era. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.