[Tweeters] One more on Mountain Beaver fleas (I promise, no more)

Jerry Broadus jbroadus at seanet.com
Wed Jul 23 08:50:23 PDT 2014

From Flea News Vol. 49:

The host is the mountain beaver, Aplodontia rufa, a primitive rodent with a restricted range from northern Califonia to extreme southwestern British Columbia. According to the literature, ten species of fleas have been reported from this host. Five of these are obviously strays from other hosts, or at least accidental associations.

Hystrichopsylla schefferi has the distinction of being the largest, non-neosomic flea in the entire order, and females may exceed one centimeter in length. All members of the genus are considered primitive by most students of the order and the most plesiomorphic taxa seem mostly associated with insectivores, although host specificity is not particularly strong in this genus. That the largest and one of the most primitive species is associated with such a primitive host suggests a fascinating evolutionary complex of taxa that has been lost to us through extinction of their hosts. Lewis & Lewis (1994) discuss this species in more details.

Seems the evolutionary progenitor of the Mountain Beaver supported some mighty big fleas.

Jerry Broadus
Puyallup, WA
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