For exactly how long have bedbugs been pestering the creatures on the planet? According to a new study, they have been here since the dinosaurs were still walking the Earth.
Bedbugs are some of the most disliked pests, and for a long time it was believed that bedbugs emerged some 50 to 60 million years ago, with bats as their first hosts. However, a new study reveals that bedbugs are actually twice as old as currently believed, and in fact evolved over 100 million years ago.
This was revealed after researchers spent 15 years collecting samples from all over the world, and discovered a bedbug specimen that is about 115 million years old. That would make it about 30 million years older than the oldest known bat specimen.
Interestingly, the findings also upend the current belief that human evolution caused the split of common human parasites into different species, as the researchers found that the parasite species are actually much older than humans.
With the new bedbug age in mind, this means that the earliest bedbugs also walked the Earth during the time when dinosaurs did. However, researchers say that it is unlikely that the bedbugs fed on the dinosaurs’ blood because bed bugs typically feed on the blood of creatures that have homes such as nests, burrows, or in the case of humans, beds. Dinosaurs did not adopt such types of habitats.
Furthermore, the researchers found that bedbugs tend to conquer humans every half a million years, and that while some bedbugs tend to specialize on a specific host, some had the ability to jump from one host to another.
Bedbugs And Humans
According to researchers, it is possible that the bed bugs will be a major parasite to humans in the coming years, especially given the many more opportunities provided by the humans, livestock, and pets.
“These species are the ones we can reasonably expect to be the next ones drinking our blood, and it may not even take half a million years,” said Klaus Reinhardt of Dresden University, co-lead of the study.
That said, the study is an effective tool to understand bedbugs more, giving us the chance to see how to more effectively eliminate them.
The study is published in Current Biology.