Biologist discovers new tick species inside his own nose

Usually, finding a tick up your nose wouldn't be a cause for celebration, but Tony Goldberg discovered a new species of arachnid inside his nasal passage—and found himself a new area of study.

Photo by John Tann.

Goldberg, a professor of pathobiological science at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, resisted the urge to claw his face off and tweezed the bloodsucker out of his nostril and mailed it off to have its DNA sequenced. After comparing the tick's DNA to that in the U.S. National Tick Collection at Georgia Southern University, Goldberg realized that this was either a previously undiscovered species of tick, or one whose DNA had never been recorded.

The experience also got Goldberg thinking about ticks in noses as a vector for spreading disease. Richard Wrangham, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, pointed Goldberg to photographs showing a largely unremarked-upon phenomenon: young chimpanzeess with ticks up their noses. Social grooming activities don't extend up chimps' noses, so ticks hiding there are spared during the grooming routine. Goldberg is exploring how humans and chimps might share pathogens where nose-creeping ticks are concerned.

US biologist discovers new species up his nose after research trip to Africa [The Independent via Boing Boing]