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Fleas, ticks, worms… The animals -not us, we free ourselves – have on numerous occasions unpleasant companions of life whose existence depends on the exploitation of the host. This type of relationships are very old. Even have noticed tiny blood-sucking dinosaur a hundred million years. Now, a team from the Northwest University in Xian (China) has discovered some organizations that may be the parasites most ancient ever found.

The researchers found these parasites age-old when they studied a population fossil braquiópodo Neobolus wulongqingensis that inhabited what is now Yunnan, China, to 512 million years ago. These beings were developed shortly after the call explosion of the Cambrian, when life exploded and there appeared almost all the groups of modern animals. The brachiopods are small marine animals with a shell-shaped, which look like bivalve molluscs. Currently there are approximately 450 species of brachiopods alive, but they know more than 12,000 from the fossil record.

The tubes were aligned with the feed streams of the brachiopods – Zhifei Zhang (Northwestern University)

According to the team notes in the journal “Nature Communications”, many of the brachiopods had embedded a few organisms that lived in tubes on the outside of their shells. The brachiopods affected were significantly smaller and the tubes were aligned with their own flows of power braquiópodo. Therefore, the researchers suggest that the body that dwelt in the tube was a parasite that was damaging to the host by stealing his food (known as cleptoparásito).

Zhifei Zhang (Northwestern University)

According to the authors, the interactions parasite-are difficult to document in the fossil record because most of the inferences are to be made in function of the appearance. Here, the authors have gathered evidence rare of not only the occurrence of parasitism, but also the cost of the same to the unfortunate host. As explained, the findings represent the relationship parasite-host oldest known identified in the fossil record to date. It seems clear that the theft was a behavior that was initiated soon in the world.