Disease-carrying insects may have contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago, entomologists write in a new book. Scientists found malaria and other parasitic pathogens in insects preserved in amber, and the same parasites were found in fossilized dinosaur waste, the Guardian reports. New plants, pollinated by insects, forced the herbivores to adapt their diets or starve, the book also suggests.
Disease, rather than a meteorite, could better explain why dinosaurs didn’t die out suddenly. "We can't say for certain that insects are the smoking gun, but we believe they were an extremely significant force in the decline of the dinosaurs," one author said. The theory of a catastrophic or geologic event fails to account for a process that took "a very, very long time, perhaps millions of years."