Nov 17, 2012
I do like a word game or puzzle. Biking Becky was just wondering on twitter what is the etymology of the scientific binomial for the house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus.
My first guess is dermato = skin and phagoides means eating, so skin-eating. The ptero part of the name threw Becky because she was thinking it somehow might allude to pterodactyl, but that name simply means winged-fingers, the ptero being wing or feathered. So, the first half of the name alludes to the featheriness of the house dust mite (it certainly doesn’t have wings). That leaves the “nyssinus” bit. The “n” is presumably a linking letter between prefix and suffix so what does yssinus mean, or is the “nys” a connector and that we’re looking at “sinus”, which could allude a hollow body, sinusoidal shape somehow…
Anyone know the etymology of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus for sure?