A Simple Example of Complexity

A Eupheredermous Oribatid Nymph

A Eupheredermous Oribatid Nymph

Blogging has been light because the sun has returned to Edmonton and all my extra energy has been going into the garden.  In celebration of the late, but better than never Spring, I offer you one of my earliest and simplest exemplars, an arboreal member of the family Cepheidae from a rainforest tree in Queensland.  This was taken as a single grab on a predigital camera and later the negative was scanned in, masked, and colourized.

The reason that a single picture was adequate, is that the top of this mite is relatively flat and with a large spot size and long working distance, one picture caught most of the detail.  The detail, however, is relatively complex.  Many oribatid mites exhibit a developmental behaviour called eupheredermy (eu-phere-dermy = good-carry-skin).  Each time they moult their cuticle, a more or less circular patch of cuticle (the scalp) remains attached to their back (the notogaster).  As they continue to moult (oribatid mites shed their skin 3 times before becoming adults: larva to protonymph, protonymph to deutonymph, deutonymph to tritonymph), the scalps accumulate in a pagoda like fashion.   I can see at least three layers of scalps, so this mite was nearing the end of its development when it donated its all to Science (and possibly to Art).  Some mites continue this pattern into the adult, but in this family, the Cepheidae, the scalps are shed at the adult moult and replaced by a thick and typically highly ornamented cerotegument.

Cerotegument litterally means ‘wax cover’ and is an example of more or less logical jargon.  Noto-gaster, or back-belly, seems oxymoronic to me, but reminds me of an old song about a Zombie Jamboree.  Perhaps whoever coined this term was in a festive mood? Of all the jargn in this posting, however, I like ‘scalp’ the best.  It is simple and a bit bloody minded.

One Response to “A Simple Example of Complexity”

  1. Meena Haribal Says:

    I love this site!

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