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The Science of the MUTOsIn the beginning, when paleontologically studying these creatures, I asked a Mothra or Rodan question, unable to determine whether the mutos were reptiles.
"...The only thing connecting a muto with an insect are the female's six legs. They appear to be reptiles, the first two legs of the female appear to have evolved into the male's wings, giving him six arms as well. I know the description here is parasite, but I'm sorry, that isn't good enough for me. It isn't really a parasite either; at least not as an adult. Any theories?"
Then, after thorough research, I found that there were actually prehistoric insects with beaks. Paramegasecoptera are an extinct order of moderate to large-sized Palaeozoic insects. Despite their very early appearance in the insect fossil record, they represent a specialised group of Palaeodictyopteroidea (Palaeozoic beaked insects), unique among representatives of that group in having evolved the ability to fold their wings over their thorax and abdomen in a manner similar to, but not homologous with, the Neopteran insects.
Prehistoric Giant ParasitesPaleoparasitology (or "palaeoparasitology") is the study of parasites from the past, and their interactions with hosts and vectors; it is a subfield of Paleontology, the study of living organisms from the past. Some authors define this term more narrowly, as "Paleoparasitology is the study of parasites in archaeological material." K.J. Reinhard suggests that the term "archaeoparasitology" be applied to "... all parasitological remains excavated from archaeological contexts ... derived from human activity" and that "the term 'paleoparasitology' be applied to studies of nonhuman, paleontological material." This article follows Reinhard's suggestion and discusses the protozoan and animal parasites of non-human animals and plants from the past, while those from humans and our hominid ancestors are covered in archaeoparasitology.
One of the most daunting tasks involved in studying parasitic relationships from the past is supporting the assertion that the relationship between two organisms is indeed parasitic. Organisms living in "close association" with each other may exhibit one of several different types of trophic relationships, such as parasitism, mutualism, and commensalism. Demonstration of true parasitism between existing species typically involves observing the harmful effects of parasites on a presumed host. Experimental infection of the presumed host, followed by recovery of viable parasites from that host also supports any claim of true parasitism. Obviously such experiments are not possible with specimens of extinct organisms found in paleontological contexts.Assumptions of true parasitism in paleontological settings which are based on analogy to known present-day parasitic relationships may not be valid, due to host-specificity. For example, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense are both devastating human parasites, but the related subspecies Trypanosoma brucei brucei will infect a number of animal hosts, but cannot even survive in the human blood stream, much less reproduce and infect a human host. So a related (or unidentifiable) species of Trypanosoma found in a paleontological or archaeological context may not be a true human parasite, even though it appears identical (or very similar) to the modern parasitic forms.
The most convincing evidence of paleoparasitism is obtained when a presumed parasite is found in direct association with its presumed host, in a context that is consistent with known host-parasite associations. Some examples include helminths caught in amber in the process of escaping from the body of an insect, lice found in the fur of guinea pig mummies, protozoans in the alimentary canal of flies in amber, nematode larvae found embedded in animal coprolites, and a mite caught in amber in the process of apparently feeding on a spider.