The Malphite is a type of malignant mole, a very rare type of mite that has a sharp point.
It is a member of the genus Phytocephalus, and it is found on the underside of many insects, including moths, beetles, grasshoppers and ants.
The name is derived from the Greek word malpheos, meaning “sharp point”.
“These are very hard to find, but we were able to find them in Malphites,” said Dr Tom Pomerance, from the University of Queensland, who has previously been studying the mites.
“There are only about 40 species of mites worldwide, but the majority are found on people.”
The majority of them are very small, with about 20-30 micrometres or so, so you could be walking by them and they could easily penetrate your skin, so the chances are pretty good that they will get into your blood.
“So, you’re essentially getting something that could potentially be lethal, which is a huge threat to the environment.”
“Morphologically, it looks a lot like the normal mite, but there are actually a few different differences,” Dr Pomerances told BBC News.
“It’s got a different pattern on the antennae, and its antennae are bigger than the normal, so it’s got different eyes, different mouthparts, different eyespots and different eyes.”‘
A little bit of a miracle’For many years, the discovery of the malphitic was believed to be the work of a lone researcher in New Zealand.
But, this past summer, researchers discovered the unusual and potentially fatal mite was actually an example of the more common Phytophthora, which has also been found in South Australia.
“In fact, it was actually quite a miracle,” Dr Tom said.
“This is the first mite I’ve found where we actually have a specimen from the Australian species, but it’s from New Zealand.”
The researchers say they hope the discovery will lead to more studies to better understand the biology of the species, and help them better predict where it might be found.
Dr Tom believes it is possible to find mites on every continent, and he hopes to see this finding used to guide future research.
“It is important to realise that we have the best chance of finding it here because of the unique environment, but also because of its uniqueness,” he said.
“You can only find it in Australia, so we’re fortunate to have a really good environment.”
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