And just what unfortunate creatures the bedbugs were living off back then isn’t clear. From ScienceDaily:
The team discovered that bedbugs are older than bats — a mammal that people had previously believed to be their first host 50-60 million years ago. Bedbugs in fact evolved around 50 million years earlier.
Bedbugs rank high among the list of most unwanted human bedfellows but until now, little was known about when they first originated.
Experts have now discovered that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than previously thought and the critters were actually in existence during the time of dinosaurs. More research is needed to find out what their host was at that time, although current understanding suggests it’s unlikely they fed on the blood of dinosaurs. This is because bed bugs and all their relatives feed on animals that have a “home” — such as a bird’s nest, an owl’s burrow, a bat’s roost or a human’s bed — a mode of life that dinosaurs don’t seem to have adopted.
Well now, just a minute. Jurassic bedbugs might be our first clue that some dinosaurs did build nests.
Professor Mike Siva-Jothy from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who was part of the team, said: “To think that the pests that live in our beds today evolved more than 100 million years ago and were walking the earth side by side with dinosaurs, was a revelation. It shows that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than we previously thought.”
Dr Steffen Roth from the University Museum Bergen in Norway, who led the study, added: “The first big surprise we found was that bedbugs are much older than bats, which everyone assumed to be their first host. It was also unexpected to see that evolutionary older bedbugs were already specialised on a single host type, even though we don’t know what the host was at the time when T. rex walked the earth.”Paper. open access) – Steffen Roth, Ondřej Balvín, Michael T. Siva-Jothy, Osvaldo Di Iorio, Petr Benda, Omar Calva, Eduardo I. Faundez, Faisal Ali Anwarali Khan, Mary McFadzen, Margie P. Lehnert, Richard Naylor, Nikolay Simov, Edward H. Morrow, Endre Willassen, Klaus Reinhardt. Bedbugs Evolved before Their Bat Hosts and Did Not Co-speciate with Ancient Humans. Current Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.048 More.
Well, they will just have to keep looking for that early, really simple bedbug, below which there is nothing but sub-bedbugs.
The bedbugs are also sucking the blood from tidy theories:
The study also disputes previously accepted ideas about how the parasites’ feeding patterns evolved. Earlier hypotheses held that bedbugs grew pickier over time, shifting from generalists that fed on whatever came their way to specialists that stuck to specific hosts as food sources. This pattern has been observed in other species; those that focus their efforts on a specialized diet can become highly efficient at acquiring nutrients from select sources, and sometimes they out-compete their less finicky counterparts.
However, the researchers’ results don’t support an overall shift from generalist to specialist feeding patterns, Reinhardt says. In fact, in a number of cases, the parasites seem to have expanded their diets. Maddie Burakoff, “Bedbugs Scurried the Earth Alongside the Dinosaurs 100 Million Years Ago” at Smithsonian Magazine
See also: Amber—a moment in time 100 mya Life forms trapped in amber—hardened resin from conifers—can show remarkable examples of stasis: No real change from one ten-million-year span to the next one.
Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen
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