Dust Mites Reverse Evolution, Shock Scientists
Parasites de-specialized in order to survive, study says
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2013 2:25 PM CST
A tiny mite.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Think our evolutionary progress is irreversible? Researchers at the University of Michigan say tiny house dust mites evolved from organisms that specialized and later de-specialized in order to survive over millions of years, Phys.Org reports. The large-scale genetic study, published in Systematic Biology, challenges one of the basic suppositions of evolutionary biology—called Dollo's law—which states that evolution goes one way and cannot be reversed.

But dust mites evolved from parasites that once lived in warm-blooded vertebrates and caused harm to the host. They then evolved into free-living dust mites that lived in nests, and, with the advent of civilization, jumped ship to the sofas, carpets, and mattresses in human homes. What's more, the finding could help us deal with allergies, because house dust mites are the No.1 cause of human allergy symptoms. "Our study an example of how asking a purely academic question may result in broad practical applications," says an author of the study.

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Showing 3 of 56 comments
adamo713
Mar 14, 2013 2:44 PM CDT
So... it adapted... kind of like how I can excercise neuro-plasticity to adapt to my own environment or I can drink my brain away if I so choose to adapt to a more painful enviorment.... Rediculous. Controversy and speculation and inflationary nonsense. Come on science. Do your job. Impress me.
adamo713
Mar 14, 2013 2:44 PM CDT
So... it adapted... kind of like how I can excercise neuro-plasticity to adapt to my own environment or I can drink my brain away if I so choose to adapt to a more painful enviorment.... Rediculous. Controversy and speculation and inflationary nonsense. Come on science. Do your job. Impress me.
MarieEsp
Mar 11, 2013 12:24 PM CDT
"But dust mites evolved from parasites that once lived in warm-blooded vertebrates and caused harm to the host. They then evolved into free-living dust mites that lived in nests, and, with the advent of civilization, jumped ship to the sofas, carpets, and mattresses in human homes." I'm not sure how this shows de-specialization? The mites went from living in warm blooded vertebrates and evolved into free-living dust mites. How is this "reverse evolution"?