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article imageDonate your pubic lice to a good cause

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Oct 21, 2007 in Science
The museum for natural history in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, has a special request. If you, or anyone you know, has crab (pubic) lice, could you please donate them to the museum?
It may sound like one, but it isn't a hoax. This is a very serious request from a very serious scientific institution.
Kees Moeliker, the curator of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam has launched his campaign to find pubic lice (Phthirus pubis) a bit more than one year ago, and so far, not a single one has been found. The museum is now going international with its search. The reason for the campaign is fear that the Brazilian may be threatening their existence. The Brazilian, essentially the practice of shaving or waxing away (nearly) all pubic hair has become so popular with women that the animal could be facing extinction.
While the Brazilian is not yet nearly as popular with men, this is not particularly important, since most men are heterosexual (as are most women) and transmission is no longer possible if the lice can't find any living space in the girls' bushes. The situation can be compared to that of the giant panda. These animals nearly met their demise because of the destruction of bamboo forests.
The museum will accept large and small samples, on the condition that they are dead and preserved in alcohol, 70% preferred. It would be nice if the samples would be accompanied by as much data as possible, such as the date when they have been collected, the location, the names of the collector and the donor, and the name, age and gender of the person on whom they have been found. These data are only for the museum's records. Anonymity of collector, donor and bearer is guaranteed.
Because pubic lice still are not usually reported, nobody knows how (un)common they still are. The museum hopes to still find a few before they go officially extinct.
More information can be found on the website of the museum.
I think that Greenpeace and their friends should launch a campaign to ban the Brazilian and personal hygiene in order to save this species from what seems to be its human-caused demise. Since the Brazilian certainly leads to a cooling of one's nether regions, it is not hard to find a link between the extinction of Phthirus pubis and global warming.
More about Phthirus pubis, Crab pubic lice, Museum