Acanthocephalans

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Concluding remarks

The number of acanthocephalan species in small mammals is very low compared with other metazoan parasites. An example can be given from the Iberian Peninsula, where helminthological surveys of small mammals have been very intensive with nearly all species of small mammals surveyed (16 species of rodents). Hence, only M. Moniliformis in Rattus norvegicus was recovered (Cordero del Campillo et al. 1994; Feliu et al. 1997).

Small rodents are scarcely infected by acanthocephalans in comparison with other groups of parasites. This could be related to the aquatic origin of the group with fish being the original hosts (Herlyn et al. 2003). Mammals were later colonized by these parasites. Few phylogenetic studies are available (Herlyn et al. 2003; Steinauer et al. 2005), but they are crucial for providing scenarios of colonization of terrestrial hosts and the specific adaptation for a very different environment.