Jurassic fleas gigantum

The old saying goes “”Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.” But a new fossil from China’s rich Jurassic deposits has turned up fleas that go the other way, gigantum:

(Link) — The largest female fleas discovered measured 20.6 mm making them about 0.81-inch long … The super strong and large blood sucking mouths are puzzling the scientists because only small mammals existed during the Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods. Modern fleas only feed on furred and feathered animals leading the researchers to believe that these big insects fed on feathered dinosaurs. A number of feathered dinosaurs have been discovered in China.

 See the little critter over there to the right? It’s a modern human flea, but it’s been blown up for effect: that’s roughly how large these ancient mama bloodsuckers really were! How would you like to have a swarm of those little monsters crawling around on you, piercing your flesh for a refreshing drink? Speaking of which, maybe we can tap into the giant insect’s abdomen and extract some blood, and bingo, dino DNA! Now we just need some investors and a secluded tropical island where we can work quietly without being bothered …


  1. says

    Not to toot the horn of science fiction, but an old SF short story from the 1960s predicted this. It was a time-travel story, after the traveler killed a dino, all the “little” parasites on the dino jumped off and attacked him. Can’t remember the title or the author’s name. Sorry. I read it as a kid. If I had known then that I’d be mentioning the story now, I would have taken notes. :)

  2. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    The “old saying” is from a poem by Jonathan Swift:

    So nat’ralists observe, a flea
    Hath smaller fleas that on him prey,
    And these have smaller fleas that bite ’em,
    And so proceed ad infinitum.”

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