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Dinosaur parasites

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Feedingdinosaur
"A hundred million years ago, there were mosquitoes, just like today. And, just like today, they fed on the blood of animals. Even dinosaurs!"
Mr. DNA(src)
"What if a mosquito sucked the blood of a dinosaur, one hundred million years ago?"
John Hammond(src)


Hematophagy is the practice of certain animals (mostly "parasites") of feeding on blood. Small parasites have existed for a long time because it is an efficient method to obtain food. Blood is a fluid tissue rich in nutritious proteins and lipids that can be taken without enormous effort and without killing the host. Parasites that feed on blood include worms (e.g. leeches) and arthropods (e.g. mosquitoes).

In Jurassic Park the sole source of dinosaur DNA are mosquitoes that had sucked the blood of a dinosaur. In Jurassic Park: Builder leech-like worms are a source of DNA from aquatic creatures.

It is a matter of debate whether mosquitoes existed throughout the Mesozoic Era. Furthermore, dinosaurs had a tough skin covered with scales and feathers. It would not have been easy for mosquitoes to feed on dinosaurs.

Jurassic Park media Edit

Amber cane

The movies and novels (let alone the rest of Jurassic Park media) never state what particular parasites fed on dinosaurs and other extinct animals. Jurassic Park features multiple close-ups of John Hammond's amber cane. This amber-entombed mosquito was identified by Navy entomologist Joe Conlon as Toxorhynchites rutilus; which is one of the only mosquitoes that doesn't feed on blood.[1] Furthermore, the mosquito clearly shows fuzzy antennae, meaning the particular insect is male. Only female mosquitoes feed on blood. This was likely for a cinematic effect.

Mesozoic parasites Edit

In the Showroom Scene Mr. DNA says:

A hundred million years ago, there were mosquitoes, just like today.

The fossil record shows that in the Cretaceous Period there was a multitude of hematophagous insects.[2] Among them were moth flies, Corethrellidae midges, Mosquitoes, biting midges, Black flies, Snipe flies, water snipe-flies and Horse-flies.[3] Other arthropodal bloodsuckers were argisid ticks.[4] Genetic calculations indicate that lice first became parasitic about 100 million to 125 million years ago.[5] Pseudopulex magnus, a 22.8 mm (0.9 inches) long bloodsucking flea, lived 125 million years ago.

However, in strata older than the Cretaceous evidence of hematophagy is scarce. In the Upper Jurassic Period there lived flies belonging to the Strashilidae family. They were initially thought to feed on Pterosaurs,[6] but further discoveries showed otherwise.[7]

In the Middle Jurassic (165 million years ago) lived the flea Pseudopulex jurassicus fleas. This species were discovered in Inner Mongolia. They measure 17 millimeters (0.7 inches) in length, not including its antennae, with mouth parts extending some 3.4 mm (0.13 inches), more than twice the length of the head.[8]

There is no evidence bloodsucking arthropods from the rest of the Early Jurassic or the entire Triassic Period.

In 2012 a leech cocoon was discovered an Antarctican stratum of 200 million years old. It is unknown if the Triassic leeches were bloodsuckers, but the cocoon had the same structure of the bloodsucking medical leech.[9]

Feeding on dinosaurs Edit

References Edit

  1. Sterbenz C. (2013). Mosquito Expert Calls Out A Big Problem In The Plot Of Jurassic Park, BusinessInsider. Online
  2. Lukashevich E.D., Mostovski M.B. (2003). Hematophagous Insects in the Fossil Record, Paleontological Journal, Volume 37(2), pages 153–161.
  3. Poinar G. & Poinar R. (2007): What Bugged the Dinosaurs? Insects, Disease, and Death in the Cretaceous. Princeton University Press: 296.
  4. Klompen H., Grimaldi D. (2001). First Mesozoic Record of a Parasitiform Mite: a Larval Argasid Tick in Cretaceous Amber (Acari: Ixodida: Argasidae), BioOne, Volume 4(1), pages 10-15.
  5. Choi C.Q., Dinosaurs Likely Lousy With Lice, LiveScience, 05 April 2011. Link
  6. Vršanský P., Ren D., Shih C. (2010). Nakridletia ord.n. – enigmatic insect parasites support sociality and endothermy of pterosaurs, AMBA Projekty, Volume 8(1), pages 1–16.
  7. Pappas S., Jurassic Insects Wrongly Accused of Sucking Dino Blood, LiveScience, 20 February 2013. Link
  8. Bryner J., Monster 'Fleas' Put the Bite on Dinosaurs, LiveScience, 02 May 2012. Link.
  9. Bomfleura B., Kerpb H., Taylora T.N., Moestrupc Ø., Taylora E.L. (2012). Triassic leech cocoon from Antarctica contains fossil bell animal, PNAS, volume 109(51), pages 20971–20974.

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