Among domestic animals, dogs have always been alongside humans while hunting, migrating around the globe, and even while exploring the moon. Indeed, for their devotion to their owners and friendly behaviour, dogs have represented the most common pet for humankind throughout their history. Meanwhile, as good friends, dogs share many things with humans, including zoonotic endo- and ecto-parasites [1, 2]. Amongst the arthropod parasites of both dogs and humans, the brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille, 1806) is an efficient vector of a diverse group of pathogens . However, in spite of being well-studied, the taxonomy of R. sanguineus is largely debated among scientists, because there is no type specimen or reliable morphological description for this species . Therefore, while R. sanguineus could be regarded as a nomen nudum, this tick is still listed as a valid taxon .
During the last century, R. sanguineus was placed in synonymy with many species [6, 7], whereas others, morphologically similar, were described and ranked within the so-called R. sanguineus group, whose definition and number of species is also arguable [7–9]. Several authors have endeavoured to study this group of ticks using both morphological and molecular tools [4, 10–16]. Recently, a comprehensive study was undertaken on representative tick specimens belonging to the R. sanguineus group from 17 countries in Europe, Africa, Americas, and Oceania . Morphological and molecular analyses revealed the existence of at least four integrated operational taxonomic units (i.e., R. sanguineus sensu lato, Rhipicephalus sp. I, Rhipicephalus sp. II, and Rhipicephalus sp. III) under the name ‘R. sanguineus’ . Nonetheless, in the absence of a consensus on the identity of R. sanguineus sensu stricto, the taxonomical status and actual distribution of these species remains enigmatic.
As for any investigational research, parasitologists need to look for any clue (e.g., morphological, molecular, biological, ecological evidence) to address their questions or hypotheses. Of great interest is to understand when and how parasites developed in animal and human populations. Under these circumstances, archeoparasitology not only investigates the causes of the death of the hosts infected by parasites , but also how they moved from one area to another, along with animals and humans during historical migrations . Oddly enough, studies in the field of archeoparasitology have been mainly focussed on protozoa and helminths in coprolites, intestinal contents or latrine deposits [19–23]. In contrast, despite the tough chitinous exoskeleton of arthropods, a relatively low number of archaeoparasitological surveys are available for ectoparasites [24–29], probably because of their location on the host coat, therefore more exposed to the outdoor environment. In addition, archeoparasitological studies on pets are limited to the retrieval of lice from cats  and dogs [28, 31]. To the best of our knowledge, the only possible iconographic illustration of ticks from Ancient Egypt is constituted by a tomb painting from ancient Thebes (Dra Abu el-Naga, Western Thebes, ca. 1473-1458 B.C.), which displays a hyaena-like animal with excrescences within the ear that were supposed to be ticks .
The recent finding of well-mummified dogs from Ancient Egypt in an archaeological expedition conducted in El Deir led to the retrieval of some specimens of ixodid ticks and louse flies on a young dog . Considering the current debate on the taxonomy of this tick species, we decided to carefully re-examine these ticks morphologically, using scanning electron micrographs to assess whether they fit with any of the species illustrated in ref. 4.