Most of us on Earth are habitats for mites that spend most of their short lives burrowed, head-first, inside our hair follicles, mainly on the face. AHumansare simply the only habitat for Demodex folliculorum. They are born on our body, they feed on us, they breed on us, and they perish on us. Their entire life cycle revolves around chewing your dead skin cells.
These mites are slowly merging with our bodies so that they can now live forever within us.
Scientists have presently sequenced the genomes of these omnipresent little beasts, and the findings show that their human-centered existence could be wreaking differences not seen in other mite species.
“We found these mites have a different arrangement of body part genes to other similar species due to them adapting to a sheltered life inside pores,” clarified the invertebrate biologist Alejandra Perotti of the University of Reading in the UK.
“These changes to their DNA have resulted in some unusual body features and behaviors.”
D. folliculorum is undoubtedly a fascinating tiny creature. Human dead skin cells are its only food source, and it spends the majority of its two-week lifespan chewing them.
The individuals arise only at night, in the blanket of darkness, to wriggle painstakingly slowly through the skin to locate a mate and hopefully copulate before retreating to the protected darkness of a follicle.