Dinosaurs may not have had fleas
Paleontologists who thought dinosaurs had fleas and other parasites have revised their original theory after a new study confirmed that the insects were actually aquatic or amphibious flies.
Washington: Paleontologists who thought dinosaurs had fleas and other parasites have revised their original theory after a new study confirmed that the insects were actually aquatic or amphibious flies.
The study, published in the journal Nature, focuses on enigmatic Jurassic insects called strashilids, the Discovery News reported.
Diying Huang of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and colleagues first thought that strashilids were huge fleas.
But closer investigation of the Jurassic insects has revealed that they weren`t parasites.
Previously, their pincer-like legs were thought to help the insects cling to hosts.
Now, Huang and the other researchers have proposed that they were used for grasping mates during copulation. Fossils showing the insects having sex back this theory.
In addition, the researchers noticed that males possessed abdominal respiratory gills, which again points to a life in the water.
The creatures appear to have been highly specialized winged insects instead of parasites. They shed their wings shortly after emergence and then crawled into the water to mate. They appear to have lived at the same time dinosaurs did, leading to a case of mistaken identity, the researcher said.