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Science

What the Mites On Your Face Say About Where You Came From (sciencemag.org) 72

sciencehabit writes with news about how the hair mites you carry can be used to determine your ancestry. "Right now, deep in your hair follicles and sweat glands, tiny mites are feeding on dead skin cells, mating, and laying eggs. The microscopic arthropods, known as Demodex folliculorum, live on virtually all mammals—especially their faces—and cause no harm under most circumstances. Now, a new study shows that people of different ancestry carry different subgroups of the bugs, and that the mites' distribution throughout the global population may even reflect how our species has migrated and evolved over the course of history."
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What the Mites On Your Face Say About Where You Came From

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  • Alian mites (Score:4, Funny)

    by ls671 ( 1122017 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @11:07PM (#51119159) Homepage

    Thanks to the mites, we might finally find out if we come from extraterrestrial origins.

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @11:44PM (#51119315)
    Ewwww. Get 'em off me! Get 'em off me!
  • I mean, is the control group the people who didn't "get around"? We inherit skin mites, sure. But it's more fun to earn them.
  • by shione ( 666388 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @12:01AM (#51119371) Journal

    When we are born we are so clean that even our stomachs do not have bacteria. It is hypothesized that our first dose of this bacteria comes from normal child birth and then we are put in our mothers arms so kissing and cuddling further transfers the bacteria. Is this cuddling and kissing where we get the first face mites too or are we born with them?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Guess that depends on the average proximity of human faces to your mother's vagina...

      • That's somewhat interesting. Does this heritage thing hold true for c section babies and babies not placed with his mother for various reasons (death, adoption - surrogate mothers and so on ).

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There is a link between C-section and increased allergies, and it's theorised that this is one potential reason why.

          There's a link between breastfed babies (who inherit bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells in the milk) and bottle-fed babies (which it's much more sterile having been sterilised/pasteurised and being non-human lacking the antibodies and white blood cells).

    • It is hypothesized that our first dose of this bacteria comes from normal child birth and then we are put in our mothers arms so kissing and cuddling further transfers the bacteria.

      What about babies born prematurely via cesarean that are placed immediately in an incubator and not touched by ungloved hands?

      • by shione ( 666388 )

        That is one of the supposeded 'cons' of having a cesarean. The baby probably still picks up bacteria when it is given to the mother to be fed and doesn't need much of it till its old enough to consume solids.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @03:22AM (#51119815)

      When we are born we are so clean that even our stomachs do not have bacteria. It is hypothesized that our first dose of this bacteria comes from normal child birth and then we are put in our mothers arms so kissing and cuddling further transfers the bacteria. Is this cuddling and kissing where we get the first face mites too or are we born with them?

      In fact, for the first two weeks after birth, the immune system is actually suppressed (while the baby has the antibodies conferred from the mother, immune activity is suppressed). It is believed this is to get a head start in populating symbiotic bacteria in the stomach, intestines and skin.

      Presumably a lot of touching confers it as well - our skins are full of bacteria, and on it live some species that we live symbiotically with - being territorial, any foreign invader gets attacked by them before they have a chance to invade us.

      And we live in a very dirty world - there are more foreign cells in and on our bodies than there are human cells, so the merest touches really help spawn colonies on a baby. We're so dirty it probably isn't possible to get anything completely sterile - instead, by sterile we really mean free from contaminants that could cause harm. All the other stuff we live with doesn't really harm us, and we live in peace with them.

  • Death Mites (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @12:08AM (#51119389) Journal

    In Australia, the face mites try to kill you.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      In Australia, the face mites try to kill you.

      Strewth mite, I dun geddit?

    • In Australia, the face mites try to kill you.

      Wrong. In Australia they're docile and vegetarian - that's why they're known as vegemites.

  • I've got ancestors from at least six countries; where do my mites come from?

  • They mite be onto something.
  • It's not clear who the actual hosts are, but I'm guessing from the report that they are Americans, of diverse origin. If the people 'of African descent' (for instance) are actually Americans of African descent, with the long contact with the majority European population, can we be sure they are not partly European? The caption for the map says '... distributed around the world'. I know it is a first investigation, but they apparently haven't investigated across the world.
  • by WallyL ( 4154209 )
    I've got ancient face bugs, passed down from my father and from his father before him!
  • What the Mites On Your Face Say About Where You Came From

    Ha, I knew those voices weren't just in my head!

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