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Worm-like mite species discovered on Ohio State's campus
Date:2/28/2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio It looks like a worm and moves like a worm sort of. But it is a previously unidentified microscopic species of mite that was discovered by a graduate student on The Ohio State University campus.

Affectionately dubbed the "Buckeye Dragon Mite" by Ohio State's Acarology Laboratory, the mite is officially named Osperalycus tenerphagus, Latin for "mouth purse" and "tender feeding," in a nod to its complex and highly unusual oral structure.

This mite doesn't resemble a mythological winged dragon, but the snake-like Chinese dancing dragons that appear in festivities celebrating each new year. What it does not resemble is a typical mite characterized by a large round body and tough external surface. And at 600 microns, or just over half a millimeter, the adult mite cannot be seen by the naked human eye.

"It is incredibly intricate despite being the same size as some single-cell organisms," said Samuel Bolton, the doctoral student in evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State who discovered this species. "That's the fascinating thing about mites and arthropods mites have taken the same primitive and complex form and structure that they've inherited and shrunken everything down. So we're dealing with complexity at an incredibly small scale."

Bolton's description of Osperalycus tenerphagus is published online in the Journal of Natural History. It is the fifth species from this worm-like family, called Nematalycidae, to be described, and only the second from North America.

An early look at mites collected from silty clay loam soil across the street from the acarology lab suggested Bolton had found a new species. Under a compound microscope, Bolton could see that the mites he collected from a soil depth of about 20 inches had numerous straight hairs all along their bodies technically known as setae that didn't match the hair-like patterns on other members of this family. The ha
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Contact: Samuel Bolton
Samuel.Bolton77@googlemail.com
614-292-7180
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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