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Mites On Your Body Belong To You, But May Tell You About Human Evolution and Migration

Update Date: Dec 17, 2015 10:14 PM EST

There are innumerable friends living on your face and hair, which you may not know about. Researchers feel that they have evolved with us through millions of years.

Now these loyal guys love human hair follicles and are everywhere on our bodies, in fact. They are tiny arachnids inhabiting our hair and consuming skin cells and oils. They crawl around in human ears, eyebrows, eyelashes, and hairs over nipples and genitals, according to scienceworldreport.

Most of us might find them harmless, but many others might link them with skin and eye disorders, such as rosacea and blepharitis. That is why we need to learn more about them.

"It's shocking that we're only just discovering how deeply our histories are shaped with the mites on our bodies," said Michelle Trautwein, one of the researchers, in a news release. "They aren't just bugs on our faces, they are storytellers. Mites tell us about our own ancient history----it's a complex story, and we've only just scratched the surface."

Examining 70 human hosts from around the world, the scientists sequenced mites' DNA to probe into the mitochondrial DNA on each person.

"We discovered that people from different parts of the world host different mite lineages," said Trautwein. "The continent where a person's ancestry originated tended to predict the types of mites on their faces. We found that mite lineages can persist in hosts for generations. Even if you move to a faraway region, your mites stick with you."

Some can survive and reproduce on hosts in certain regions. But differences in mite lineages tend to follow the differences in human populations too. Moreover, mites are shared mostly with the family, but not with everyone.

The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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