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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Jurassic Itch
29 February 2012 1:01 pm
Feathered dinosaurs must have needed a good scratch. Paleontologists have discovered fossils of the oldest known fleas—insects unearthed from 165-million-year-old rocks in north-central China that ranged between five and 10 times the size of modern-day fleas, with the largest females (one shown at left) reaching lengths just over 20 millimeters and males (right) approaching 15 millimeters. These early vermin were wingless, like today's species, and their hind legs weren't yet adapted to allow the tremendous leaps for which many modern-day fleas—especially circus fleas—are famed. But the most notable aspect of these newly described fossils are the prodigious mouthparts used to pierce the hides of their hosts, the researchers report online today in Nature. Although these fleas could have fed on a variety of furred or feathered creatures, the length of their blood-siphoning weaponry, which is most prominent on females, suggests that the fleas' hosts had thick hides—a characteristic that probably applied to feathered dinosaurs but not to early mammals or birds.
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