An ancient hominin passed the genital herpes virus to our ancestors
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Genital herpes is a serious infection which affects millions of people, and some of them are not even aware they have it. Researchers have just discovered a hominin species might be to blame for it. This species, called Paranthropus boisei, lived 2.4 million years ago, up until 1.4 million years ago. According to the researchers, this species passed out the disease to our ancestors.
The origin of genital herpes dates back millions of years ago
Genital herpes is a global epidemic, as about 417 million people all over the world have it. However, this disease is most of the time silent. As soon as someone gets infected, they might not even experience any symptoms. When they occur, people can identify it by blisters surrounding the genital and anal area, fever, severe pains, and sore lymph glands.
Researchers identified the first case of one of our human ancestors getting infected with genital herpes, about 1.4 million years ago. Until then, only apes exhibited this infection, and they believe it got transmitted through a hominin species.
A hominin species brought the virus to our first human ancestors
They managed to find evidence that the first to contract genital herpes was Homo habilis. Then, it passed the virus of the disease to the hominin species Paranthropus boisei, which then was transmitted to Homo erectus.
In a study published in the journal Virus Evolution, researchers built a model of the transmission process from chimpanzees this hominin species. Judging from environmental factors, geography, and the location of the fossils, they identified the hominin as Paranthropus boisei.
By crossing data of the climate at the time with the fossil location, they determined it was not uncommon for the hominin species in question to spend time near chimpanzee populations. Then, they found out this species roamed the water sources where Homo erectus lived. These were the factors which facilitated the transmission of the genital herpes factors to the early human species.
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