Chinese scientists have found the oldest known parasite

Scientists from northwestern University in Xian (China) has studied the early relationship of parasite and host in the example of perfectly preserved fossils age 515 million years old from southern China. We are talking about brachiopods Neobolus wulongqingensis.

The study showed that chitin respiratory channels on the wings of the fossil shells of brachiopods once served as a refuge parasitic worms. The apparent negative impact on host there is, as Neobolus without parasites grew larger than those from whom they were. It is difficult to determine the type of worms, but found out that they were with the owner his whole life and was kleptoparasitism – stealing food from the owner before he could swallow.

Preserved shell Neobolus wulongqingensis

Scientists managed to establish other facts of parasitism on the basis of ancient fossils. Spiral bacteria, is almost identical to those that cause Lyme disease, found in a fossil tick an age of 15 million years, buried in amber. “Language worms” (Pentastomida) live today, but the history of their kind has been around for hundreds of millions of years. The team of researchers even have evidence of damage to the feathers of ancient dinosaurs lice.

The age of these fossil parasite coincides with the so-called Cambrian explosion. This event began about 540 million years ago during the Cambrian. It was a time of rapid evolutionary change, when the first animals with eyes, organs and limbs. These changes had a significant influence on the interaction of organisms with each other. It is believed that active predation, began at this time. And parasitism, apparently, is no exception.

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