Part of a two-volume edited book series, this second volume highlights and reviews the potential of the fossil record to calibrate the origin and evolution of parasitism, and the techniques to understand the development of parasite-host associations and their relationships with environmental and ecological changes. The book deploys a broad and comprehensive approach, aimed at understanding the origins and developments of various parasite groups, in order to provide a wider evolutionary picture of parasitism as part of biodiversity. This is in contrast to most contributions by parasitologists in the literature that focus on circular lines of evidence, such as extrapolating from current host associations or distributions, to estimate constraints on the timing of the origin and evolution of various parasite groups. This approach is narrow and fails to provide the wider evolutionary picture of parasitism on, and as part of, biodiversity.
This second volume focuses on the importance of direct host associations and host responses such as pathologies in the geological record to constrain the role of antagonistic interactions in driving the diversification and extinction of parasite-host relationships and disease. To better understand the impact on host populations, emphasis is given to arthropods, colonial metazoans, echinoderms, molluscs and vertebrates as hosts. In addition, novel techniques used to constrain interactions in deep time are discussed ranging from chemical and microscopic investigations of host remains, such as blood and coprolites, to the statistical inference of lateral transfer of transposons and host-parasite coevolutionary dynamics using molecular divergence time estimation.
Dr Kenneth De Baets is a paleobiologist at the Geozentrum Nordbayern in the faculty of Natural Sciences at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nurnberg. He graduated from Ghent University with a Masters in Geology and earned his PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Zurich. His main research focuses on documenting and interpreting the relative contributions of abiotic (e.g., climate) and biotic factors (e.g., parasitism) in driving large-scale patterns in the evolution of life and biomineralization.
Dr John Huntley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Missouri. He graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors of Science in Geology in 2000, then earned his Masters in Geology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2003, and his PhD in Geosciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2007. His main research interests include the fossil record of biotic interactions, stratigraphic and conservation paleobiology, and the evolution of morphological disparity.