Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some Geeky Stuff: Dinosaurs Had Lice (Maybe)

I don't know why this IO9 article fascinates me, but it does. 

The basic premise is "lice were already diversifying long before the dinosaurs died out. This is significant because lice would only start to diversify when their various hosts - in other words, birds and mammals - were themselves starting to diversify into lots of different species"

"The newly found lice fossils . . . .means we have to come up with some new explanation for why birds and mammals started diversifying in such great numbers."  That fact may be scientifically important, but the big question:  did dinosaurs have lice is more interesting.  According to the article,
Our analysis suggests that both bird and mammal lice began to diversify before the mass extinction of dinosaurs. And given how widespread lice are on birds, in particular, and also to some extent on mammals, they probably existed on a wide variety of hosts in the past, possibly including dinosaurs. So maybe birds just inherited their lice from dinosaurs.

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