If you were to write a list entitled ‘Five Things I Do Not Want From A Gorilla’, what would be on it? A smack in the face? Some of its own poo as a christmas gift? Or what about crabs?
If pubic lice are already on your list you’re probably a bit weird and if it’s not I’d put it on now if I were you, you never know when you may have to deal with a sexually charged gorilla.
Yes, it seems that around 3.3 million years ago we may have been on more than speaking terms with our hairy cousins. It has been discovered they gave us crabs. This rather disturbing/hilarious news was uncovered during a DNA study reconstructing the evolutionary history of lice in humans and our apey relatives.
It was around this time that the gorilla louse and the human pubic louse seperated into two distinct species. Humans as we know and love them today weren’t around back then so the first to go to the GUM clinic would have been Australopithecus (those Ozzies…).
Before this transfer occured our ancestors were only troubled by one species of louse as chimpanzees and gorillas are today. It had remained a mystery as to why we humans can carry two: head and pubic lice.
So how in the name of everything holy did this happen?
Well as you are probably aware pubic lice are most commonly spread by sexy contact, but it could have happened another way.
David Reed the study leader from the University of Florida in Gainesville USA said: ‘Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure…Given that the (gorilla louse) species occurs primarily in the pubic region, it is quite possible that the lice were transmitted sexually.’ Let’s think about that for a moment…right, lets not.
However a more likely explanation is that early humans got the little critters by living in close proximity to gorillas and maybe using the same sleeping sites or scavenging gorilla remains.
The study was designed to look at changes in primate and lice genes to determine when different louse species originated.
Human head lice and chimpanzee lice are a common ancestor and new data shows that the two emerged as a seperate species at the same time humans and chimps parted evolutionary ways around 6 million years ago. This is known as co-speciation as lice and parasites often evolve in tandem with their animal hosts.
Our pubic lice however seem to be related to the gorilla louse but human and gorilla lineages said goodbye about 7 million years ago so co-speciation could not explain the origin of crabs.
Therefore the itchy parasite must have been passed onto one primate to another years after becoming seperate species.
Even if we discount the possibility of hot gorilla on human action, the discovery gives boffins a brand new insight into how we lived. Mark Pagel from the University of Reading said: ‘These results may suggest that our ancestors lived or partially dwelt in forests and perhaps even slept in nests of foliage built by gorillas.’
How about that then? Sex with gorillas, Sigourney Weaver didn’t mention that did she? Although I was once told about a porn film called Gorillas In The Ass, but that was mainly grotesquely hairy men.
Anyway, if you are ever unfortunate enough to get the devils itch be thankful you didn’t catch them from a 1 tonne silverback. They never call and you’d probably need a new bed.
1. I can see we’re going to have to take your DVD player away again, Matt. - Ed.