Demodex folliculorum, the species of microscopic mites that reside in the hair follicles of mammals, including humans, has the science community talking. Most would be shocked and possibly disgusted to know that small arthropods are establishing residency in the pores of our faces, laying eggs, mating, and eating our dead skin cells.

Animal Diversity Web depicts the tiny creatures as having a slug-like body, only ranging from .10 to .39mm in length; microscopic to the human eye. Although this sounds like something from a sci-fi thriller, these mites play a monumental role in discovering the origins of the human race and evolution. Scientists have discovered that by studying migration patterns and type of mites on our faces, it will unravel the history of humanity.

A study published in 2015 by Science Magazine, one of the most reputable magazines in the science community, reports that a group of researchers collected samples from 70 human hosts with family ancestry from numerous regions of the world, including European, Asian, African, and Latin American. The DNA from each mite was then extracted from the specimens’ mitochondria and further examined. Finally, each type of mite was classified into a 4 groups (or clades) and connected to its place of origin.

Science Magazine concludes, “A wealth of fossil and human genetic evidence suggests that modern humans first evolved in Africa and the distribution of mite species supports that hypothesis. Though it was the least sampled geographic area, people of African descent had the most diverse mites, possessing all four clades. From there, the authors theorize that people (carrying their mites) spread out to the other geographic regions and that, along the way, certain groups of the mites didn’t make it..”

This suggests that the scientific community’s most accepted theory on evolution is consistent with the results from the mite experiment. In addition to giving us insight on where humanity began, these mites may eventually provide us answers to some of the most compelling questions– How did mankind begin?

 

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