When my wife discovered what she thought was a flea in our living room a few months back, we reached immediately for our 19-lb Maine coon cat in order to subject him to the sort of intensive examination that I can’t imagine is legal outside of a prison or airport holding room. Finding nothing, we dropped to our hands and knees and spent the next 20 minutes crawling around on the carpet searching for potential brethren. Still finding nothing but needing something a bit more conclusive to combat our newly kindled paranoia, we turned to The Science — examining the darkly colored speck through a thrift-store magnifying glass while comparing it to pictures of fleas on Google images like some sort of entymological Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings. After another 10 minutes spent arguing over whether this or that formation was an appendage, an antenna, or merely a smudge on the glass, we were finally able to feel reasonably secure in our diagnosis of non-fleadom for the tiny creature(?) and thus were not forced to sell our house the next day and/or burn it to the ground.
That said, after reading today’s SlashGear’s article on a related topic, I can heartily confirm that I will gladly live with the taxonomical uncertainty inherent to the miniscule stature of our modern flea families if it means never again having to deal with their inch-long ancestors:
Scientists have discovered fossils of several large fleas measuring about inch-long that are thought to have fed on feathered dinosaurs back in the Jurassic period. The fossils of the giant fleas were unearthed at two separate sites in China. The largest female fleas discovered measured 20.6 mm making them about 0.81-inch long.
On the other hand, flea circuses would be a lot more entertaining if they featured these blood-sucking stars, so I guess you have to take the good with the bad.