Feeds

GIANT blood-guzzling Jurassic fleas ambushed dino prey

Boffins uncover critters armed with piercing straws

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?
Vital linguistic question interrupts LOHAN spaceplane mission
95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift
Guangzhou skyscraper denizens to hold on to hats
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
STEALTHY NANOROBOTS dress up as viruses, prepare to sneak into YOUR BODY
Cloaking techniques nicked from viruses tackle roadblocks on way to medical frontier
Space station astronauts pop outside to replace crippled computer
Speedy space walk by snorkel-equipped spacemen followed by trash day
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.