Dino Fleas Are Flies

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Dino fleas are flies, according to reports in ABC News in Science and PhysOrg 21 February 2013, and Nature doi:10.1038/nature11898 20 February 2013. Palaeontologists have changed their minds about some fossil insects originally identified as giant fleas that infested feathered dinosaurs. The original argument they were fleas, was because they had pincer-like hind legs that could have been used to grasp their host, and mouthparts suitable for piercing skin. But now the scientists who originally studied the fossils have found more specimens, including two in the act of mating. Some of the new specimens had wings, indicating they did not need a host to move around, and only the males had pincer legs, which were used for clasping females. Furthermore, the male specimens had abdominal respiratory gills. The research team now suggest these fossil insects had a life cycle similar to living modern water flies, beginning as larvae living in water, then becoming adults with wings, but later shedding their wings and returning to the water to mate, reproduce, and then die.

ABC, PhysOrg

Editorial Comment:We wrote about these fossils when they were identified as fleas, and made the cautious comment “if these have been correctly classified as the oldest fossil fleas, then they provide no evidence for evolution of fleas from any other kind of insect. The fact they are extinct is evidence there were once more kinds of fleas than there are now”. (See Giant Fossil Fleas here)

Although we were happy to accept the original identification of these fossils as fleas, we have no problem accepting them as water flies, now that more specimens are available for study, and they are still no use to the evolutionist.

Note that included in the new specimens is a pair fossilised in the act of mating (which in all present day water flies occurs in a very short period of time) so this specimen informs us these fossilised flies were buried alive and rapidly – no long time involved. That fact is additionally supported by the preservation of fine detail of tiny structures such as the abdominal gills. In fact, this is a catastrophic deposit, and that’s a comment you can make about all well preserved fossil remains. Time is not in the fossils. Time destroys – only rapid process preserves – a point we make great use of in our latest DVD Time’s Up Darwin. See free preview here. (Ref. Insects, arthropods, Diptera, fossilisation)

Evidence News 13 March 2013

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