Today in news you wish you didn’t know, we bring to you these microscopic mites that live on the pores in your face and have sex.
Yes, while we’ve been polishing our faces and slathering them with the trendiest skincare, these creatures have been setting up shop, according to scientists who have been studying their DNA.
The mite, Demodex follicularum, is 0.3mm long and resides in the oily folds in our skin, predominantly in the pores near the nose and on eyelashes, as well as those near the nipples. Yes, you read right.
They can be passed from mother to baby during breastfeeding and grow throughout our lives as our pores get bigger. Don’t worry though, more than 90% of us play host to them, it’s quite normal – and you won’t get a disease from them or anything.
The parasites spend their days feeding on your oily skin secretions while at night they leave the pores to find mates they can have sex with and lay their eggs in the follicles.
While the idea of parasitic mites is enough to make you scrub your whole body, it won’t be of much use, as the Demodex follicularum lives very deep within our pores and actually serves a good purpose.
It can help fight acne, for one, by unblocking pores and cleaning them.
And, despite their efforts, the mites are actually becoming much weaker as a species and morphing from parasite to symbiont – organisms which are entirely dependent on another to survive. In this case, that’s us. Humans.
They live isolated lives without any external threats, competition and face a lack of exposure to other mites, meaning their genes have reduced to becoming very simple organisms.
So they may face an evolutionary dead end. This is sad news because we need them, Dr Alejandra Perotti of the University of Reading, who co-authored the study, told Sky News.
”We should love them because they’re the only animals that live on our bodies our entire life and we should appreciate them because they clean our pores.
“Besides, they’re cute.”
Dr. Henk Braig, co-lead author from Bangor University and the National University of San Juan, added: “Mites have been blamed for a lot of things. The long association with humans might suggest that they also could have simple but important beneficial roles, for example, in keeping the pores in our face unplugged.”
Who knew we weren’t actually alone all this time?
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