Biting Midges

An industrious hadrosaur stripped foliage from a kauri tree sapling growing at the border of a sodden meadow. Metallic-colored dragonflies greeted the day by darting across the tops of ferns and horsetails and catching small insects on the wing. Clouds of silvery-winged mayflies fluttered up from the dew-covered vegetation. The dinosaur munched away at overhanging branches, consuming myriads of aphids and scale insects that covered the leaves. The commotion caused small weevils and xyelid...

Insects The Ultimate Survivors

Insects have been around for more than 400 million years. Dinosaurs (non-avian) only lasted 180 million. What determines how long families, genera, and species survive When biological and physical events impact a species so that the death rate continuously exceeds the birth rate, that life form has begun a downward spiral towards extinction. Ultimately a low population threshold is reached where recovery is impossible and the fate of the species is sealed. That loss has a ripple effect...

Parasitic Worms

Rhabdiasidae

An ailing ankylosaur fell behind the herd, obviously in pain. Masses of roundworms in the stomach had obstructed the normal flow of food through the alimentary tract. Many of these ascarid worms had reached more than a foot in length, and were depositing millions of minute eggs that then passed out the partially blocked intestine in the stool. Cockroaches and other insects gathered to feed on the broken-down plant material in the feces and were accidentally ingesting the eggs. When they in turn...

Sand Flies

On a cloudy, damp afternoon, a hungry gecko was cautiously crawling over the trunk of an araucarian tree, looking for insects but at the same time watchful for enemies. In one area a portion of the bark was missing and several beetles had collected, all of which provided a potential meal. The lizard moved to grab one but they all darted away, and in the end, the reptile chose a small weevil for its next meal, one that was crawling along the tree and lilting its elbowed antennae to detect scents...

Gorging on Dinosaurs

Fresh vertebrate blood is not exactly everyone's ideal meal. But for a few animals such as leeches, vampire bats, and hematophagous insects, it represents haute cuisine. And even some humans, like the Masai of Kenya, are well known for surviving on a mixture of milk and blood drawn from cows and goats. But by far, the largest group of animals to develop this proclivity is bloodsucking insects, and they have truly perfected this habit because their very survival has depended on this sanguinary...

The Cretaceous A Time of Change

Cretaceous Period World Map

The sun rose and set over 29 billion times during the Cretaceous. Each succeeding dawn and nightfall saw the birth and death of billions of organisms, and in every passing millennium, species arose or became extinct. Dramatic physical and biological changes molded the evolution of insects, plants, and dinosaurs during that period in the planet's history. Differences in insect taxa are evident in the amber fossils found in Lebanon in the Early, Burma in the mid, and Canada in the Late...

Sanitary Engineers of the Cretaceous

On an alluvial flood plain near the amber forest, a large or-nithopod dinosaur momentarily stopped grazing among the fern fronds, raised its tail, and defecated. Before the last of the waste even reached the ground, the air was crackling with the vibrating wings of thousands of dung beetles of all sizes and shapes. From large and round to small and oval, the beetles landed directly on or adjacent to the evacuated material. Not a moment was lost, and some began burrowing into the pile of waste...