Bug Blog

Did Dinosaurs Have Fleas?

Did Dinosaurs Have Fleas? | Arizona Flea Control Experts

Over 150 million years ago, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, you had primitive fleas that were feasting on these dinosaurs’ blood. However, the existence of these insects has been previously unknown, until a new set of very well preserved fossils was discovered in China.

Today, fleas are everywhere and there are a huge variety of flea species that will infest mammals and birds. However, we do not know much about their origins. The new fossils that have been discovered are very similar, at least in appearance, to the more modern species from 65 million years ago, and even the nature of these fleas is currently debated by researchers. However, this new discovery by Michael Engel has added another 100 million years to the discussion.

Engel’s team discovered nine specimens across two sites, one of which was 165 million years old from the Jurassic period, and another 125 million years old from the Cretaceous period. Both were located in China. The specimens were very different from the fleas we know today, being double in size. Modern fleas can be anywhere from 1 to 10 millimeters, while the ancient fleas ranged from 8 to 21 millimeters.

These prehistoric fleas also did not have the spring legs that allow modern fleas to jump great distances, and their mouth parts featured armored structures that were meant to be able to saw through skin. Researchers drew the conclusion that these characteristics influenced the insects’ behavior, where instead of jumping on their prey, they waited in the periphery, ran up the dinosaurs, had a quick bite and then left.

The mouth parts in particular helped the researchers determine that these insects were feeding on dinosaurs. After all, mammals have relatively thin skin which can be pierced by the mouthparts of modern mosquitoes and fleas. It is only when dealing with the thick hides of dinosaurs that the fleas needed to saw through the skin in order to reach their blood. Researchers also postulated that the fleas may have either fed on dinosaurs or on pterosaurs.

Luckily, modern day fleas are not as terrifying. They are small insects which can be easily taken care of with insecticides and some specialized equipment. Contact us today if you have a flea infestation in your home and you would like to get rid of it as soon as possible.