Inch-long Jurassic fleas slurped feathered dinosaur blood

Scientists have discovered fossils of several large fleas measuring about inch-long that are thought to have fed on feathered dinosaurs back in the Jurassic period. The fossils of the giant fleas were unearthed at two separate sites in China. The largest female fleas discovered measured 20.6 mm making them about 0.81-inch long.

The largest male fleas discovered are 14.7 mm or 0.58-inch. That makes these fleas much, much larger than modern-day fleas. One notable difference between these ancient, giant fleas and their modern-day counterparts is that the ancient fleas lacked the hind legs that allow modern-day fleas to jump. The scientist dated a group of the fleas discovered in Ningcheng County, Inner Mongolia to the Middle Jurassic period, 165 million years ago.

The other group of massive fleas were discovered in the Liaoning Province and were dated to the Lower Cretaceous period 40 million years after the Middle Jurassic group. According to the discoverers, the most interesting part of the giant fleas was that their bloodsucking mouths were unusually long and sturdy.

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.

[via Telegraph]