Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Cretaceous Animals That Weren’t Dinosaurs


10
Lice
The tenacious louse has been around since the days of dinosaurs, and it'll probably outlive humans. © Eva-Maria Pasieka/Corbis
The tenacious louse has been around since the days of dinosaurs, and it'll probably outlive humans. © Eva-Maria Pasieka/Corbis

Scratch, scratch, scratch! You'll find them in hats, on coats and sometimes, ugh, in your hair. Lice! They're itchy! They're disgusting! They're ugly! Yet, when the end came for the dinosaurs, the tiny louse survived.Perhaps it's because these itchy creatures were too small to die or because there were too many of them.

No matter. Originally, bird lice probably made their home on the downy feathers of avian-dinosaurs, the prehistoric monsters that evolved into modern birds. The parasites may have chowed down on dinosaurs such as the Shuvuuia, a genus of birdlike, meat-eating theropods that lived between 85 and 75 million years ago [source: Balter].

A few years ago, scientists discovered two lice fossilized in stone. One was 44 million years old; the other about 100 million years. After careful study, researchers concluded these lousy bloodsuckers not only survived the near destruction of Earth 65 million years ago, but also flourished afterward [sources: Choi, Switek].


More to Explore