Washington, Jan 4 (UNI) It might sound incredible but a new argument probing the extinction of dinosaurs claims that the mightiest creatures the world has ever known may have been brought down by a tiny, much less dramatic force -- biting, disease-carrying insects.
According to the new research, an important contributor to the extinction of the dinosaurs, could have been the rise and evolution of insects, especially the slow-but-overwhelming threat posed by new disease carriers, the Science Daily reported today.
Dr George Poinar Jr, a courtesy professor of zoology at Oregon State University in his book ''What Bugged the Dinosaurs? Insects, Disease and Death in the Cretaceous period,'' wrote that in the late Cretaceous, the world was covered with warm-temperate to tropical areas that swarmed with blood-sucking insects carrying leishmania, malaria, intestinal parasites, arboviruses and other pathogens, and caused repeated epidemics that slowly-but-surely wore down dinosaur populations. Ticks, mites, lice and biting flies would have tormented and weakened them.
''We found in the gut of one biting insect, preserved in amber from that era, the pathogen that causes leishmania -- a serious disease still today, one that can infect both reptiles and humans.
In another biting insect, we discovered organisms that cause malaria, a type that infects birds and lizards today,'' Dr Poinar said.
The confluence of new insect-spread diseases, loss of traditional food sources, and competition for plants by insect pests could all have provided a lingering, debilitating condition that dinosaurs were ultimately unable to overcome.
''Insects have exerted a tremendous impact on the entire ecology of the Earth, certainly shaping the evolution and causing the extinction of terrestrial organisms,'' Dr Poinar said.
''The largest of the land animals, the dinosaurs, would have been locked in a life-or-death struggle with them for survival,'' he added.
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