Scientists Revive Ancient Plague to Learn Clues About Epidemic that Wiped Out Half of Europe

Ancient Origins | 12/31/1969 | Staff
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Scientists claim that they have identified the ancient hominin species that gave early humans genital herpes two million years ago. Parathropus boisei was a heavyset human-like species with a very small brain that walked on two legs, and is the one to blame for passing to humanity one of the most common viral diseases.

Herpes is a pain the neck (to say the least) and unfortunately has been around almost forever. In 2013 alone, about 1.1 billion people (15.9% of the global population) had asymptomatic genital herpes and 47 million new cases of genital herpes occurred. Various studies have showed that it is the most common sexually transmitted infection by the number of cases. According to The Washington Post , we now know who to blame for this terrible viral disease that infects so many of us; his name is Parathropus boisei. It is believed that he most likely contracted the virus after eating infected ancestral chimpanzees, and then passed the pathogen onto us when hunted by Homo erectus for food.

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That scenario seems to be quite realistic, as the researchers have found that Paranthropus boisei (also known as “the Nutcracker Man” thanks to his immense teeth) and our ancestor Homo erectus would drink water from common sources, such as Kenya's Lake Turkana. This provided the opportunity for the genital herpes virus to shift onto our bloodline.

Ancient - Chimpanzees - Herpes - Herpes - HSV-1

Ancient chimpanzees genetically passed oral herpes (herpes simplex 1, or HSV-1) to the earliest humans millions of years ago when our lineage split. And we almost missed out on catching that other affliction, genital herpes (HSV-2). Unlike HSV-1, HSV-2 didn’t make the leap to early humans on its own, but as we already mentioned, Paranthropus boisei was in the right place at the right time to catch...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Ancient Origins
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