Sunday, November 3, 2013

Super close-up of a tick's mouth

The blood-sucking mouth parts of the tick species Ixodes ricinus.

With cinematography, SEM and confocal microscopy, we recorded and interpreted the insertion events of the tick's mouthparts.  Initially the paired telescoping chelicerae pierce the skin and, moving alternately, generate a toehold.  Subsequently, a breaststroke-like motion, effected by simultaneous flexure and retraction of both chelicerae, pull in the barbed hypostome.  The ratchet-like motility of their flexible chelicerae allows Ixodes ticks to dynamically penetrate the soft substrate of the host's skin and use their rigid hypostome for robust static attachment.

(Dania Richter, Technical University of Braunschweig/Proceedings of the Royal Society B; Biological Sciences)

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