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Big Dinosaurs Had Big Fleas

In the world of dinosaurs, almost everything was bigger. Even the fleas. Back in the Jurassic Era, some of them were almost one inch long.

New flea fossils, up to 165 million years old, have been found in China. And it wasn’t just their whole body that was big. You wouldn’t want to be bitten by one of these characters. Their long proboscis, or mouth, had saw-shaped serrated edges that helped them cut through the tough hides of the dinos to suck their blood.

“It was a big critter,” said Dr. Michael Engel, entomology curator at the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas. “I can’t even imagine coming home and finding my miniature schnauzer with one or more of these things crawling around on [him].”

Dr. Engel co-authored the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Nature, along with Professor Huang Diying of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology.

Like modern fleas, the females were twice the size of the males. One thing they were missing, however, was the ability to jump like modern fleas. Back then, they had to crawl around.