The scientists have managed to discover the oldest of parasitic relationships. The pandemic that swept the different countries of the world has attracted the attention of the scientists to the search for the vaccine, drugs for treating people from COVID-19. But at the same time, groups of scientists were able to conduct some research to find out what harm or benefit ecosystems bring to a person. In the framework of such studies, the evolutionary importance of parasites was determined.
The obtained information will help science to find ways to reduce their impact on the animal world, including the human body. Parasites are widespread in the modern world. But practically nothing is known about how parasites developed in the distant past, and when they first appeared.
This organism cannot exist independently. Nature created him primitive, but in need of a "master". By exploiting another organism, the parasite is able to live. A parasitism is recognized as a special form of symbiosis, and it is seen as a positive partnership. For example, the relationship between coral polyps and microscopic algae, which is crucial for the formation of coral reefs, benefits both organisms. But parasitism cannot be considered useful, since the parasite does harm to its master.
Most of the knowledge about the evolution of organisms on our planet is obtained from fossilized remains, which are considered numerous evidence of evolutionary development. Parasites by nature live inside the host. To establish the processes of their evolution for that reason is extremely difficult. Bacteria and viruses destroyed them too quickly, leaving no imprints on the surfaces of stones or other natural materials. But there are still some examples.
The scientists have explored the 515 million-year-old fossils from southern China that have been well preserved, related to organisms called brachiopods. That is a species of marine invertebrate. Outwardly, they resemble mollusks. In the past, this species was widespread, today it is difficult to meet. The study revealed that the surface of the shells was occupied by parasitic worms.
They negatively influenced their master, taking away his life force. But what type of worms were these - science did not know. It was only possible to find out that the parasite was attached to its owner throughout the entire life cycle. Modern technology has helped to determine the kleptomania of parasites that steal food from their owners.
That process is at least 7 million years old. But science has examples that confirm the existence of parasites hundreds of millions of years ago. Parasitic worms were found in the feathers of dinosaurs, whose age coincides with the Cambrian period, that is, they could inhabit about 540 million years ago.