Bedbugs Scurried the Earth Alongside the Dinosaurs 100 Million Years Ago

Bedbugs Scurried the Earth Alongside the Dinosaurs 100 Million Years Ago

  • A new study from an international team of researchers finds that bedbugs evolved about 100 million years ago, when dinosaurs still ruled the Earth, making them twice as old as entomologists had previously believed.
  • “But the oldest [bat] fossil is [from] about 50 or 60 million years ago. It’s impossible that bats would be the first host of bedbugs because they were around before any kind of proto-bats were flapping through the air.”
  • That earlier date is also supported by two ancient fossils-one of a precursor to bedbugs and related species, and another of an early bedbug-both of which would place bedbugs’ appearance at around 100 million years ago, Reinhardt says.
  • Though people might like to imagine the great T. rex moaning about its itchy bites, Reinhardt says it’s unlikely dinosaurs served as hosts for bedbugs.
  • The three documented times bedbugs have evolved to feed on humans, for example, appear to support the idea that bedbugs can become generalists.
  • The shifted timeline for bedbugs also comes into conflict with theories of the evolution of two varieties of pest that commonly plague humans today: the tropical and the common bedbug.
  • While other researchers believed the evolutionary rift occurred because the bugs developed while feeding on separate species of early and modern humans-Homo erectus and Homo sapiens-the study authors calculate that the bedbug species split off more than 30 million years before their human hosts walked the Earth.