I did feel a surge of pride and excitement, however, upon hearing of the discovery of a new genus and species of mite (Osperalycus tenerphagus) right here on Main Campus: considering that this is only the second member of its family to be found on the North American continent, the discovery by graduate student Samuel Bolton (who works across the hall from my admittedly unassuming job in the Triplehorn Insect Collection) is an occurrence worthy of attention.
|LT-SEM photograph of protonymph (above) and tritonymph (below) of Osperalycus tenerphagus (USDA)|
|LT-SEM photograph of O. tenerphagus when contracted (right) and at rest (left) (also USDA)|
Which is why where O. tenerphagus (the "Buckeye dragon mite") was discovered makes it special: not in an arenaceous environment like the rest of its kin, but in a surprisingly clayey soil ("Worm-like mite species found"—ScienceDaily). The presence of rutella in the Buckeye dragon mite's mouthparts is also significant in clearing up questions of phylogeny: it confirms that nematalycids belong in the Endeostigmata (a probably paraphyletic taxon) as opposed to the Trombidiformes (Bolton et al., 2014).
But to me, the location will always be the kicker: you see, I've obliviously walked over the ground where Samuel Bolton found the creature at least four times a week since September. One never knows what can be found beneath one's feet...
Bolton, S. J. (2014, February 20). New Species of Bizarre, Worm-like Mite Discovered on Ohio State University Campus. Entomology Today. Retrieved 4/13/14 from http://entomologytoday.org/2014/02/20/new-species-of-bizarre-worm-like-mite-discovered-on-ohio-state-university-campus/
Bolton, S. J.; Klompen, H.; Bauchan, G. R. and Ochoa, R. (2014). A new genus and species of Nematalycidae (Acari: Endeostigmata). Journal of Natural History. Retrieved 4/13/14 from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00222933.2013.859318
Wheeler, Q. (March 1, 2014). New to nature No 119: Osperalycus tenerphagus. The Observer. Retrieved 4/13/14 from http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/mar/02/new-to-nature-osperalycus-tenerphagus