Giant Fossil Fleas

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Giant fossil fleas found, according to reports in Nature News, ScienceShots 29 February 2012, and Nature DOI:doi:10.1038/nature10839 published online 29 February. Chinese and French palaeontologists have studied nine flea specimens from Daohugou and Huangbanjigou in China. The insects varied from 8 to 21mm (0.3 to 0.8in). Living fleas vary from 1 to 10mm (mostly less than 5mm) in length. The fleas had robust mouthparts with saw-like projections on their siphon-like structure they used to feed. Modern-day fleas have a smooth siphon.

Michael Engel a fossil insect expert at University of Kansas, commented: “The mouthparts are certainly overkill for piercing the hides of early mammals and birds. It really appears as though they were specialised for working their way into some heavy hides, such as those on dinosaurs”. They also lacked the spring loaded legs that enable today’s fleas to jump so spectacularly. The research team concluded: “Their special morphology suggests that their earliest hosts were hairy or feathered ‘reptilians’, and that they radiated to mammalian and bird hosts later in the Cenozoic”. Engel suggests the fleas were ambush specialists, “hiding in the periphery and then scrambling onto the host for brief periods to feed before bolting again” and added “they could have attacked dinosaurs or possibly pterosaurs”. The Nature News article commented: “But perhaps the only way to be sure would be to find fossil fleas caught in the act of feeding on dinosaurs”. The Daohugou specimens are dated as 165 million years old and the Huangbanjigou specimens as 125 million years old. This makes them the oldest fossil fleas as well as the biggest.

Nature News

Editorial Comment: Both people and dogs are probably glad such big fleas are extinct, and only little fleas are left, but did you notice the uniformitarian thinking – today’s fleas bite animals, therefore fleas have always bitten animals. The Nature News writer is correct in saying the only way to know what they ate would be to find one in the act of eating. Since these fleas are dead, no-one can observe them eating anything, so the belief these newly discovered fossil fleas used their robust mouthparts to attack dinosaurs is pure speculation. Their large strong siphon with saw-teeth would have been just as effective for penetrating plants and feeding on plant juices. Furthermore, 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.

Altogether, these fossil fleas are good evidence for the Biblical history of fleas: they were created as fully functioning creatures that ate plants and the world was once a much better place for vegetarian fleas, and therefore dogs and people, but it has gone downhill due to human sin and God’s judgement. Many giant forms have died out as part of the overall degeneration of the world and some creatures have survived by becoming parasites. (Ref. insects, arthropods, parasites)

Evidence News 14 March 2012