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What Bugged the Dinosaurs?: Insects, Disease, and Death in the Cretaceous

By: George Poinar and Roberta Poinar

264 pages, Figs, col plates, illus

Princeton University Press

Hardback | Jan 2008 | #168792 | ISBN-13: 9780691124315
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.99 $31/€27 approx

About this book

Millions of years ago in the Cretaceous period, the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex - with its dagger-like teeth for tearing its prey to ribbons - was undoubtedly the fiercest carnivore to roam the Earth. Yet as What Bugged the Dinosaurs? reveals, T. rex was not the only killer. George and Roberta Poinar show how insects - from biting sand flies to disease-causing parasites - dominated life on the planet and played a significant role in the life and death of the dinosaurs.

The Poinars bring the age of the dinosaurs marvelously to life. Analyzing exotic insects fossilized in Cretaceous amber at three major deposits in Lebanon, Burma, and Canada, they reconstruct the complex ecology of a hostile prehistoric world inhabited by voracious swarms of insects. The Poinars draw upon tantalizing new evidence from their amazing discoveries of disease-producing vertebrate pathogens in Cretaceous blood-sucking flies, as well as intestinal worms and protozoa found in fossilized dinosaur excrement, to provide a unique view of how insects infected with malaria, leishmania, and other pathogens, together with intestinal parasites, could have devastated dinosaur populations.

What Bugged the Dinosaurs tells the story of insects' tremendous impact on Cretaceous ecosystems...There are fascinating chapters on the evolution of pathogens, what makes insects 'the ultimate survivors,' and the nature of extinctions...The scientific and, at times, technical, subject of this book is complemented by an often colorful narrative style...worthwhile for lay readers as well as experts. -- Aaron Brooks ForeWord Magazine The Poinars graphically detail the probably diseases, debilitations, and deaths of dinosaurs from the life-cycle perspective of insects that infested them. The Poinars directly encourage younger readers by emphasizing how wide open paleoentomology is to future researchers. They impart enthusiasm in recounting their own discoveries...a mood supported by this book's several dozen photographs and drawings. Showing dinosaurs beleaguered, the Poinars temper the popular image of their dominance. -- Gilbert Taylor Booklist


Preface ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 Chapter 1: Fossils: A Time Capsule 7 Chapter 2: The Cretaceous: A Time of Change 17 Chapter 3: Herbivory 37 Chapter 4: Dinosaurs Competing with Insects 50 Chapter 5: Did Dinosaurs or Insects "Invent" Flowering Plants? 55 Chapter 6: Pollination 57 Chapter 7: Blights and Diseases of Cretaceous Plants 63 Chapter 8: The Cretaceous: Age of Chimeras and Other Oddities 72 Chapter 9: Sanitary Engineers of the Cretaceous 79 Chapter 10: The Case for Entomophagy among Dinosaurs 91 Chapter 11: Gorging on Dinosaurs 102 Chapter 12: Biting Midges 110 Chapter 13: Sand Flies 116 Chapter 14: Mosquitoes 122 Chapter 15: Blackflies 127 Chapter 16: Horseflies and Deerflies 131 Chapter 17: Fleas and Lice 135 Chapter 18: Ticks and Mites 141 Chapter 19: Parasitic Worms 147 Chapter 20: The Discovery of Cretaceous Diseases 157 Chapter 21: Diseases and the Evolution of Pathogens 171 Chapter 22: Insects: The Ultimate Survivors 185 Chapter 23: Extinctions and the K/T Boundary 192 APPENDIX A: Cretaceous Hexapoda 203 APPENDIX B: Key Factors Contributing to the Survival of Terrestrial Animals 219 APPENDIX C: Problems with Evaluating the Fossil Record and Extinctions 221 References 225 Index 253

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George Poinar, Jr., is currently in the Zoology Department at Oregon State University. He is well known internationally in various fields, including paleobiology, nematology, and insect pathology. He became familiar with tropical diseases while serving as a consultant for the United Nations and World Health Organization. Roberta Poinar is a retired research scientist. They are the coauthors of "The Amber Forest: A Reconstruction of a Vanished World" (Princeton) and "The Quest for Life in Amber". Their research has been featured in leading publications worldwide and on television programs such as "Nova".

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