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In Brief

Entomologist Finds Possible New Tick Species... Up His Nose

A lone star tick, which is in the same genus as the Ugandan nose tick (Amblyomma), but not the same species.
A lone star tick, which is in the same genus as the Ugandan nose tick (Amblyomma), but not the same species. (Image credit: CDC)

When entomologist Tony Goldberg got back from a trip to Kibale National Park in southwestern Uganda, he soon found that he hadn't returned alone — he had a tick up one of his nostrils. "When I got back to the U.S., I realized I had a stowaway," Goldberg told Entomology Today. "When you first realize you have a tick up your nose, it takes a lot of willpower not to claw your face off."

It turned out to be a type of Ugandan nose tick, known to burrow into chimpanzee nostrils. Goldberg, a University of Wisconsin researcher who studies how infectious diseases spread in the wild, got the genome of the tick sequenced (it was a nymph and couldn't be identified from its bodily features). This revealed that the tick is either a new species, or is a known species that hasn't yet been sequenced, Entomology Today reported.

The ticks appear capable of infesting both chimps and humans, and may represent a new way for diseases to spread between the two, Goldberg said.

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.