Almost half of all known animals on this planet are parasites, said University of Washington parasite ecologist, Chelsea Wood. And according to a study entitled "Parasite biodiversity faces extinction and redistribution in a changing climate," and published in Science Advances, a tenth of these parasites may already be destined to extinction in the next five decades because of climate change, their hosts' loss, and intentional attempts at eradication.

However, right now, it appears that only few people care or even notice.  According to a National Geographic report, of over 37,000 species flagged as "critically endangered on the IUCN red list, only a single louse and some freshwater mussels are found to be parasites.

By definition, according to the report, parasites live in or on a host and take something from that particular host. This has made them the pariahs of the world of animals.

Nonetheless, not all parasites cause noticeable danger to their hosts and just a small percentage is impacting humans. In connection to this, scientists have warned of dire implications if the rest is regarded.

Not only there are so many things to learn about parasites, not to mention, the ways to utilize them for humans' own needs like medicinal leeches in particular. They are still used some surgeries although experts are also beginning to understand that they are play vital roles in ecosystems, keeping some groups in check as they help to feed others.

ALSO READ:  A 12-Year-Old-Girl Dies From Untreated Head Lice Infection

Parasites Face Extinction; Study Tells Us Why We Need to Save them
(Photo : Ghedoghedo on Wikimedia Commons)
Fossil of Maotianshania, an extinct nematomorph

Parasites' World

When one looks at a landscape, be it Australian coral reef or African savanna, the host species including humans are the ones noticed. However, the zebras, fish and lions are also homes for most of life hiding in front of humans.

Given the information, about 40 percent of known animals are said to be parasites and those are just the ones that have been described.

Scientists now think that is just roughly 10 percent of all parasites out there, leaving possibly millions more yet to discover. Essentially, parasitic wasps alone possibly outnumber any other group of animals including beetles.

It appears that most species are parasitized by multiple others. Humans, for instance, despite the efforts to be unhospitable, are ideal hosts.

Over a hundred different parasites have evolved to live in, or on humans, many of them now reliant on the latter for continued existence of their species.

Why Should We Save Parasites?

While the expiration of the hangers-on of life might appear like no big deal, or even something to strive for, ecologists warn that wiping all the parasites out would possibly spell 'planetary doom.'

Minus the parasites that keep them in check, this report specified that there would be an explosion of some animals, just as aggressive species doe when they are transplanted far from natural slayers. Other species would possibly crash in the succeeding melee.

Large, charismatic predators would lose out, as well. A lot of parasites have evolved to move into their succeeding host through manipulation of the host they are in, which tends to drive the host into the mouth of the predator.

For example, nematomorph worms which, according to All About Worms, is also called hosehair worms'. They mature inside crickets but need to be in water to mate. Therefore, they influence the brains of crickets, driving the insect to jump into streams, the site where they are turning out to be an essential food for trout. The same phenomena are feeding cats, birds, fish, as well as other predators globally.

Furthermore, even human health would not totally benefit from wiping out parasites. In nations like the United States, where there has been an elimination of most intestinal parasites, there are autoimmune diseases that are virtually unheard of in areas where everyone still has such parasites.

A related report on the therapeutic benefit of a parasitic worm is shown on the University of Technology Sydney's YouTube video below:

RELATED ARTICLE: Researchers Discover Parasite in Cat Poop, Linked to Higher Risk of Brain Cancer

Check out more news and information on Parasite on Science Times.