Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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A Lousy History of Human Evolution

Friday, November 08, 2013

(Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA—Lice can offer information on human evolution, according to a study in progress led by David Reed of the Florida Museum of Natural History. For example, genetic analysis has shown that the human pubic louse originated from gorilla lice more than three million years ago. This would suggest that early humans and gorillas once lived in close proximity. The researchers also found that clothing lice diverged from head lice between 80,000 and 170,000 years ago, indicating when humans must have begun wearing clothing of some sort. And, an investigation of mitochondrial DNA indicates that three lice lineages may have evolved separately on different hominids, only to be later reunited on modern humans.