The feces of shark that lived 270 million years ago, suggests that parasites assailed animals much earlier than previously thought. Tapeworms are clinging to the inner walls of the intestine of vertebrates, and reaching the age of maturity, lay eggs which are released to the outside world with waste master.
The study of the early history of these parasites – not an easy task, because their fossils from the time of the dinosaurs, are extremely rare. Have to analyze the coprolite.
In sharks coprolite spiral forms found a whole cluster – 93 oval eggs. In one of them, apparently, was a nymph with a number of thread-like structures, which are likely to have been subsequently transformed into hooks that allow the parasite clings to the intestine.
Fossils found in the south of Brazil, related to the Paleozoic era in 251-542 million years ago, that is, to the era of Pangea. Copies of intestinal parasites of vertebrates, which were previously considered as the most ancient, younger than 140 million years.
Length of eggs – about 150 microns, that is one and a half times the thickness of a human hair. They were able to identify, by cutting into thin layers of coprolites. Underlain eggs in only one of these sections, said co-author Paula Dentsin-Diaz , of the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil.
Just found the place more than five hundred coprolites. Probably had its freshwater pond, which is home to many fish died during a severe drought.
In coprolite also found the mineral pyrite. This suggests that the environment was poor in oxygen, so the fossils were preserved.
There is no way to know what species belonged to those ancient sharks, because they all have the same gut and therefore waste. It is unlikely that the tape worm could kill his shark, but who knows – maybe he was there is not one.