Skip to content

Episode 11: Face Mites

The bad news is that everybody has face mites. The good news is that these tiny cousins of spiders and ticks seem to be harmless for the vast majority of us. 

In this episode, entomologist and evolutionary biologist Michelle Trautwein describes how she and her colleagues collected face mite DNA from a variety of volunteers for a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The results of the study were surprising and further confirmed our current understanding of human migration through time.

Listen as we explore the lives of these close personal friends of ours, and learn how they may help us answer new questions about our own evolution.

Learn more and see photos if you dare, on The Leakey Foundation blog.


Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation. The Leakey Foundation advances human origins research and offers educational opportunities that cultivate a deeper, collective understanding of what it means to be human. 

For a limited time all donations to The Leakey Foundation will be matched by an anonymous donor. Give today at

Transcripts are provided by Adept Word Management.


Global divergence of the human follicle mite Demodex folliculorum: Persistent associations between host ancestry and mite lineages

Origin of Clothing Lice Indicates Early Clothing Use by Anatomically Modern Humans in Africa



I [name], of [city, state ZIP], bequeath the sum of $[ ] or [ ] percent of my estate to L.S.B. Leakey Foundation for Research Related to Man’s Origins, Behavior & Survival, (dba The Leakey Foundation), a nonprofit organization with a business address of 1003B O’Reilly Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94129 and a tax identification number 95-2536475 for its unrestricted use and purpose.

If you have questions, please contact Sharal Camisa Smith sharal at 

This will close in 0 seconds