This new study rebuts all the thoughts that call malaria a newly developed tropical area disease. Not only this, the new study also suggests that the first vertebrate hosts of the deadly disease may have included the gigantic dinosaurs. Malaria is generally thought to be of modern origin, spread by anopheline mosquitoes. According to George Poinar, from Oregon State University of US the ancestral forms of this disease used different insect vectors and malarial strains, and may have helped shape animal survival and evolution on Earth.
Poinar also pointed out that this fatal disease which can infect animals ranging from humans and other mammals to birds and reptiles, may have begun in an insect such as the biting midge more than 100 million years ago. These could have played a major role in the extinction of the dinosaurs. (Also read. Malaria first spreads from birds: Study)
The primary hosts of the diseases here are insects as the sexual reproduction stage of malaria only occurs in them. The evidence from the study also points towards Gregarinida, a protozoan parasite group that could have been the progenitors of malaria, since they readily infect the insects that vector malaria today. This study further can help us to understand the modern day life cycle of malaria, its evolution and much more. The study was published in the journal American Entomologist.