The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Episode Notes for
Just Scratching the Surface

mange-afflicted animals mistaken for monsters

IN THIS EPISODE we get under the skin of the chupacabra legend, and find out more about the lice that cause the hairless canids the media loves so much. It’s okay to scratch — but don’t skip this episode! Once you get past the disgust factor, there is some amazing science going on in parasitology. Our guide into this fascinating world is acarologist Dr. Barry O’Connor, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.

Topics include:

  • What is acarology?
  • The origin of mange & scabies
  • The difference between the two diseases
  • Why does mange cause hair loss?
  • Why does mange cause death?
  • What is the life cycle of a mite?
  • What is the evolutionary origin of dust mites?
  • Why does the media get excited by hairless animals?


The views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of the Skeptics Society or Skeptic magazine.

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