Skip to main content Accessibility help

Evidence of intestinal parasites of dinosaurs

  • G. POINAR (a1) and A. J. BOUCOT (a1)

Protozoan cysts and helminth eggs preserved in a coprolite from the Early Cretaceous Bernissart Iguanodon shaft in Belgium demonstrate that representatives of 3 phyla parasitized dinosaurs by that period. These fossil parasite stages are described and their possible effect on dinosaurs discussed. These findings represent the earliest fossil records of protozoan and helminth parasites of terrestrial vertebrates.

Corresponding author
Tel: +541 737 5366. Fax: +541 737 0501. E-mail:
Hide All


Abel, O. ( 1935). Vorzeitliche Lebensspuren. Fischer, Jena.
Anderson, R. C. ( 2000). Nematode Parasites of Vertebrates. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.
Bertrand, C. E. ( 1903). Les Coprolithes de Bernissart, Première Partie: Les Coprolithes qui ont été attributés aux Iguanodons. Mém. Musée Royal d'Hist. Natur. Belgique 1, 1154.
Brooks, D. R. ( 1984). Platyhelminths. In Diseases of Amphibians and Reptiles ( ed. Hoff, G. L., Frye, F. L. and Jacobson, E. R.), pp. 247258. Plenum Press, New York.
Carroll, R. L. ( 1988). Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. W.H. Freeman and Co., New York.
Chin, K. and Gill, B. D. ( 1996). Dinosaurs, dung beetles and conifers, participants in a Cretaceous food web. Palaios 11, 280285.
Chin, K. ( 1997). Coprolites. In Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs ( ed. Currie, P. J. and Padian, K.), pp. 147150. Academic Press, San Diego.
Chin, K., Tokaryk, T. T., Erickson, G. M. and Calk, L. C. ( 1998). A king-sized Theropod Coprolite. Nature, London 393, 680682.
Dollo, L. ( 1909). The fossil vertebrates of Belgium. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 19, 99119.
Erasmus, D. A. ( 1972). The Biology of Trematodes. Edward Arnold Ltd, London.
Frank, W. ( 1981). Endoparasites. In Diseases of the Reptilia, Vol. 1 ( ed. Cooper, J. E. and Jackson, O. F.), pp. 291358, Academic Press, London.
Frank, W. ( 1984). Non-hemoparasitic Protozoans. In Diseases of Amphibians and Reptiles ( ed. Hoff, G. L., Frye, F. L. and Jacobson, E. R.), pp. 259384. Plenum Press, New York.
Frye, F. L. ( 1991). Biomedical and Surgical Aspects of Captive Reptile Husbandry. Krieger Publishing Inc., Malabar.
Gonçalves, M. L. C., Araújo, A. and Ferreira, L. F. ( 2003). Human intestinal parasites in the past: new findings and a review. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 98 (Suppl. 1), 103118.
Gray, J. ( 1965). Extraction techniques. In Handbook of Paleontological Techniques ( ed. Kummel, B. and Raup, D.), pp. 530587. W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.
Greenblatt, C. L. and Spigelman, M. (Eds.). ( 2002). Emerging Pathogens, The Archaeology, Ecology, and Evolution of Infectious Disease. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Keymer, I. F. ( 1981). Protozoa. In Diseases of the Reptilia Vol. 1 ( ed. Cooper, J. E. and Jackson, O. F.), pp. 233290. Academic Press, London.
Kudo, R. R. ( 1954). Protozoology. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, USA.
Patterson, D. J., Simpson, A. G. B. and Rogerson, A. ( 2000). Amoebae of uncertain affinities. In An Illustrated Guide to the Protozoa ( ed. Leedale, G. F. and Bradbury, P.), pp. 804826. Society of Protozoologists, Lawrence.
Poinar, H. N., Hofrieter, M., Spaulding, G. W., Martin, P. S., Stankeiwicz, B. A., Bland, H., Evershed, R., Possnert, G. and Paabo, S. ( 1998). Molecular coproscopy: dung and diet of the extinct ground sloth Nothrotheriops shastensis. Science 281, 402406.
Poinar, G. O., Jr. and Poinar, R. ( 2004). Paleoleishmania proterus n. gen., n. sp., (Trypanosomatidae: Kinetoplastida) from Cretaceous Burmese amber. Protista 155, 305310.
Poinar, G., Jr. and Telford, S. R., Jr. ( 2005). Paleohaemoproteus burmacis gen. n., sp. n., (Haemospororida: Plasmodiidae) from an Early Cretaceous biting midge (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Parasitology 131, 16.
Poinar, G., Jr. ( 2003). A rhabdocoel turbellarian (Platyhelminthes, Typhloplanoida) in Baltic amber with a review of fossil and sub-fossil platyhelminths. Invertebrate Biology 122, 308312.
Prasad, V., Stromberg, C. A. E., Alimohammadian, H. and Sahni, A. ( 2005). Dinosaur coprolites and the early evolution of grasses and grazers. Science 310, 11771180.
Rasnitsyn, A. P. and Quicke, D. L. J. ( 2002). History of Insects. Kluver Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Schell, S. C. ( 1970). How to Know the Trematodes. Wm. C. Brown Company, Dubuque.
Sloss, M. W. and Kemp, R. L. ( 1981). Veterinary Clinical Parasitology. Iowa State University Press, Ames, USA.
Spencer, F. M. and Monroe, L. S. ( 1961). The Color Atlas of Intestinal Parasites. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, USA.
Sprent, J. F. A. ( 1984). Ascaridoid nematodes. In Diseases of Amphibians and Reptiles ( ed. Hoff, G. L., Frye, F. L. and Jacobson, E. R.), pp. 219245. Plenum Press, New York.
Thulborn, R. A. ( 1991). Morphology, preservation and palaeobiological significance of dinosaur coprolites. Palaeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecoloty 83, 341366.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed