Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 58, Issue 14, pp 1682–1690 | Cite as

Mesozoic giant fleas from northeastern China (Siphonaptera): Taxonomy and implications for palaeodiversity

  • DiYing HuangEmail author
  • Michael S. Engel
  • ChenYang Cai
  • André Nel
Open Access
Article Geology


The recently discovered definite giant fleas from the Middle Jurassic Daohugou fauna and the Early Cretaceous Jehol fauna of northeastern China represent significant evidence for understanding ectoparasitism in the Mesozoic as well as the evolution of these giant blood feeders with their putative hosts (i.e. hairy or feathered vertebrates). On the basis of seven well-preserved specimens from Daohugou and Huangbanjigou we analyse the systematic classification of these primitive fleas, establishing two new genera and three new species as Pseudopulex wangi sp. nov., Hadropsylla sinica gen. et sp. nov., and Tyrannopsylla beipiaoensis gen. et sp. nov. All of them are assigned to the extinct siphonapteran family Pseudopulicidae, while the Early Cretaceous genus Tarwinia is transferred to Tarwiniidae fam. nov. The basal morphological disparities of Siphonaptera in the Mesozoic are evidenced by the occurrence of at least three distinct groups (pseudopulicids, tarwiniids, and saurophthirids). These disparate morphologies likely indicate adaptations to different hosts.


Mesozoic flea Pseudopulicidae Tarwiniidae diversity ectoparasitism Daohugou fauna Jehol fauna 


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© The Author(s) 2013

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • DiYing Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael S. Engel
    • 2
  • ChenYang Cai
    • 1
  • André Nel
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and PalaeontologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Division of Entomology, Natural History Museum, and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.CNRS UMR 7205, CP 50, EntomologieMuséum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance

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