Bedbugs are a problem throughout the world. They are usually a problem in developing countries, but have since become a problem in Britain, the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. ( Center for Disease Control and Prevention )
How long have bedbugs disturbed creatures on this planet? According to a new study, they have been here since dinosaurs still walked on Earth.
Evolution of Bedbug
Bed bugs are some of the most unpopular pests, and for a long time it was believed that bedbugs appeared around 50 to 60 million years ago, with bats as their first host. However, a new study reveals that bedbugs are actually two times older than what is believed today, and actually evolved more than 100 million years ago.
This was revealed after researchers spent 15 years collecting samples from around the world, and found specimens of bedbugs that were around 115 million years old. That would make it about 30 million years older than the oldest known specimen of a bat.
Interestingly, these findings also rule out the current belief that human evolution caused the separation of human parasites into different species, because the researchers found that parasitic species were actually much older than humans.
With the age of new bedbugs in mind, this means that the earliest bedbugs also walked on Earth during the time when dinosaurs did it. However, the researchers say that it is not possible for the bedbugs to eat dinosaur blood because bedbugs usually eat the blood of creatures that have houses such as nests, burrows, or in the case of humans, beds. Dinosaurs did not adopt this type of habitat.
In addition, the researchers found that bedbugs tend to conquer humans every half million years, and that while bedbugs tend to specialize in certain hosts, some have the ability to jump from one host to another.
Bedbugs and Humans
According to the researchers, it is possible that bedbugs will become the main parasite for humans in the years to come, especially given the increasing opportunities provided by humans, livestock and pets.
"This species is a species that we can expect to be the next species to drink our blood, and it may not even take half a million years," said Klaus Reinhardt of the University of Dresden, co-lead of the study.
That said, this study is an effective tool for better understanding bedbugs, giving us the opportunity to see how to eliminate them more effectively.
This study was published on Current Biology.
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