Humans acquired pubic lice from gorillas

Mountain gorilla

From BigNews Network:

Humans acquired pubic lice from gorillas


Washington, Mar 8 : Humans acquired pubic lice from gorillas several million years ago, a new University of Florida study has revealed.

And no it rather due any interaction of an intimate kind, but rather from sleeping in gorilla nests or eating the giant apes that helped in transmitting the insects onto humans, said David Reed, assistant curator of mammals at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus and one of the study’s authors.

“It certainly wouldn’t have to be what many people are going to immediately assume it might have been, and that is sexual intercourse occurring between humans and gorillas.

Instead of something sordid, it could easily have stemmed from an activity that was considerably more tame,” said Reed in his study in the current edition of the BMC Biology journal.

According to Reed, around 3.3 million years ago, lice found on gorillas began to infest humans.

While humans play host to two kinds of lice, one on the head and body (Pediculus), and the other on the pubic region, crab lice (Pthirus), chimps and gorillas have lice only on the head and pubic region respectively.

That they took up residence in the pubic region may have coincided with humans’ loss of hair on the rest of their bodies and the lack of any other suitable niche, said Reed.

Reed said understanding the history of lice is important because these tiny insects give clues about the lifestyles of early hominids and evolution of modern humans.

See also here.

New National Park in Cameroon to protect Cross river gorilla: here.

Bonobos, including video: here.

Putting on clothing to protect our woefully hair-deficient bodies is one of the key moments in the history of becoming human. Just when our species took this step, however, is open to a fair amount of guesswork—scientists can’t exactly dig up fossilized parkas and trousers. But what scientists can do is determine roughly when two species diverged, and that has made all the difference: Using the lice that have traveled with people for thousands of years, a team has tracked the time that humans first became dedicated followers of fashion—perhaps as long as 170,000 years ago: here.

Guardian: Jumping fleas reveal their secrets to Cambridge scientists: here.

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6 thoughts on “Humans acquired pubic lice from gorillas

  1. Gorillas’ divergence date from humans pushed back by 2 mln years

    ANI Thursday 23rd August, 2007

    London, Aug 23 : The last common ancestor of humans and gorillas might have lived at least 2 million years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study by a team of Japanese and Ethiopian researchers.

    The new species (Chororapithecus abyssinicus) from Ethiopia, appearing in the current issue of Nature, helps to fill in a huge gap in the fossil record, the scientists said.

    The researchers based their conclusion on nine teeth from at least three individuals of the species, discovered in the desert scrubland of Afar about 170 kilometres east of Addis Ababa.

    According to Gen Suwa of the University of Tokyo Museum, Japan, lead author of the study, the teeth, eight molars and a canine, “are collectively indistinguishable from modern gorilla subspecies” in size, proportion and scan-revealed internal structure.

    The team says that the gorilla’s divergence date from the human lineage is not about 8 million years ago as previously surmised but “greater than 10 to 11 million years ago” on the basis of the age of the new species.

    Functionally, the teeth already seem to be evolving – they could shear through a plant diet, a gorilla trait – although other herbivore apes also exist in the fossil record, Suwa added.

    “This finding could prompt discussions of how anthropologists and geneticists determine the hominin line’s divergence from chimps, previously pegged at about 6 million years ago. Chororapithecus abyssinicus suggests, once again, that Africa was the place of origin of both humans and modern African apes” – not Eurasia as some researchers have argued,” he said.

    However, not all palaeoanthropologist seem to agree.

    Jay Kelley from the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in the study said: “I’m not convinced it is a gorilla”.

    “More fossils, analysis and debate will be needed to determine whether the specimen is ancestral to hominids. For now, I would be “very cautious” about using the specimen to realign divergence dates between hominins and gorillas-chimps,” he said.


  2. In most cases, a public lice infestation can be treated with medication that can be bought over the counter, however, not all products on the market are equal. It is always recommended that you ask your doctor, or purchase a FDA approved product.


  3. New Vision (Kampala)

    Uganda: Eleven Years After Massacre – Bwindi Park Springs Back to Life

    3 March 2010

    Kampala — Yesterday, March 1, marked 11 years since people suspected to be Intarahamwe rebels attacked Bwindi National Park in western Uganda, killing eight foreign tourists and four Ugandans.

    Patsno Baraire revisits the incident and highlights the challenges and developments that have since taken place in the park.

    On March 1, 1999, the world woke up to one of the most horrific news of our times – people suspected to be Interahamwe rebels attacked Bwindi National Park and brutally murdered eight foreign tourists and four Ugandans. The dead included the park warden, Paul Ross Wagaba. The attackers also burnt the A&K Tourist Gorilla camp at Buhoma, just at the gate of the park and all the vehicles and motorcycles which they found there.

    The incident left the tourism industry, especially gorilla tracking, in jeopardy.

    After the attack, the park was closed for four months, resulting in a huge loss of revenue. A lot of money was used to renovate it and the Government faced a big challenge of reassuring foreign tourists as many cancelled their trips to the park.

    Since the incident, many important people, including President Museveni and the former American Ambassador Nancy Powel, have visited Bwindi and tracked the gorillas in a bid to boost the confidence of the international community that the place is now safe.

    While by 1998, the number of tourists visiting Bwindi alone had reached 3,437, it went down to 2,111 in 1999 and it took three years to regain the numbers when in 2002 Bwindi received 4,048 visitors.

    Since then, the number of tourists visiting the park has steadily gone up again from 4,646 in 2004 to 12,100 in 2009, putting the tourism industry among the leading foreign exchange earners for Uganda.

    The A&K Tourist Gorilla Camp has since been rebuilt and renamed the Gorilla Forest Camp, and a number of other camp sites, hotels and lodges have sprung up to cater for the growing number of tourists.

    Martin Mugabe, a resident of Buhoma, who was only 12 years at the time of the attack, says the situation has now gone back to normal. Mugabe, now 23, works as a porter to support his family of three.

    According to the current Bwindi National Park Conservation manager, Charles Tumwesigye, the number of gorillas habituated for tourism has risen from three in 1999 to six. The groups which existed in 1999 were Mubare, Habinyanja and Katendegere. Today, three others have been formed. Although Katendegere disintegrated in 1999, Habinyanja group split into two in 2002 and the splinter group is called Rushengura.

    Also formed are Nkuringo which came into effect in 2002, Bitukura in 2008 and Nshongi in 2009. All these have contributed to the increase in the number of tourists as the Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) is now selling more gorilla permits than it did in 1999. However, there was a problem of poor infrastructure. The stakeholders, who included UWA, the local governments, local communities and the wildlife conservation organisations worked out modalities to improve the infrastructure.

    Besides, the communities were seen as a threat to the gorillas because of their intrusion into the park where they used to hunt, collect firewood and gather fruits.

    Most of these were Batwa who depended entirely on the park for survival. It was feared that they could transmit infections like influenza to the rare gorillas.

    The park and UWA had to find alternative means of survival such as bee-keeping, goat-rearing and Irish potato growing for them.

    The organisation also reallocated them, which necessitated sharing the revenue from the park with them.

    UWA introduced the revenue sharing policy In 2000. According to this policy, communities bordering the parks would get 20% of the revenue from gate collections. This money is used to supplement the budgets of the district bordering Bwindi National Park.

    Since 2000, Kanungu district has received sh251,118,500; Kabale, sh85,635,300 and Kisoro sh46,220,000 from the gate collection revenue sharing.

    According to Josephine Kasya, the Kanungu LC5 chairperson, the money has been used to support community projects in the three districts.

    With this money, 31 primary schools, 10 health centres and seven community roads have been rehabilitated, while two community halls have been built.

    Communities around the park have also used part of the money to procure high quality seeds for planting which has enabled them to depend less on hunting wild meat from the park.

    “I used to spend my time in the bushes hunting game because that is what I found my great grandfathers doing but since UWA built a school and resettled us I have learnt to practice better farming methods.

    “I grow Irish potatoes and sell them to some of the visitors who come here,” says John Mukamwashaka, who originally lived in the park.

    Besides the 20% gate collection share, UWA has also introduced the gorilla permit levy which entitles these communities to funds from the 5% gorilla levy fees which was introduced in 2006, whose implementation started this year.

    Last month sh286,000,000 was released to the three districts to supplement their budgets, a process that will continue as the number of tourists continues to rise.

    Mr. Herbert Banobi, a member of the gorilla permit levy committee and a resident of Kyeshero, one of the parishes benefiting from the funds, says UWA’s decision to give the residents part of the revenue will go a long way in uplifting the standards of living of the people in the area.

    “We used to see many people coming here, wondering why we were not benefiting from the venture but now that we are assured of the benefits, we shall plan for it and develop our infrastructure so that many more can come,” Banobi told The New Vision at Kyeshero on the Uganda DR Congo border.

    A group of women at Buhoma on the Bwindi Park entrance have formed an association, called Buhoma Women’s Association, where they make a variety of handicrafts which they sell to the tourists visiting the park. They also sell foodstuffs to earn income.

    Stella Tiwangye, one of the women says: “I never went to school but God gave me a talent to weave good baskets which I sell to the visitors. Through this I have managed to educate my children up to university and other higher institutions of learning.” There is also the Bwindi Orphans Group, a local non-governmental organisation which brings together and supports orphans, especially those orphaned by the AIDS scourge.

    The children entertain the visitors with music, dance and drama and earn some money for school fees and upkeep.

    And with each day that passes, the darkness that engulfed this park on March 1, 1999 and subsequent days turns into light and the tourism sector in this part of the country looks set for even better things.


  4. Pingback: Gorilla DNA sequenced | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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