Trivia

Hard

What Tiny Creatures Live In Old Books And Protect Them From Harm?

Book Scorpions
Paper Mites
Binding Worms
Book Lice
A close up photo of a tiny book scorpion, hardly bigger than the letters on the page.
Fice (Christian Fischer)/Wikimedia

Answer: Book Scorpions

Visit any collection of old books with a steady hand and a powerful magnifying glass and you’re bound to see one of the more curious things found within the walls of old libraries: book scorpions.

These tiny creatures, typically two to eight millimeters long, are a species of pseudoscorpions (arachnids with flat, pear-shaped bodies and pincers that resemble scorpions without the stinging tail attached). Book scorpions are called such because of their favorite places to hang out, in old book collections. The paper, binding glue, and other components of old books draw in food for the book scorpions by the thousands; book lice, mites, moths, and other tiny creatures that want to feed on books are readily available and welcome food for the book scorpion.

Without millions of book scorpions around the world happily munching up untold millions of book-eating-parasites, the state of the world’s oldest books would be a much different story.

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