Feb 7, 2008

Head Lice came from Africa!

Head lice came from Africa! Researchers discovered this fact after testing head lice, taken from 1,000-year-old mummies, found in the southern Peruvian coastal desert. Genetic tests showed the lice are nearly identical to strains found around the world that have been dated to when humans first began to colonize the rest of the world.

"It tells us that this genetic type got around the globe right as humans spread and migrated around the globe," said David Reed of the University of Florida, who worked on the interesting study.

Writing in Journal of Infectious Diseases, Reed and colleagues noted that there are three known strains, or clades, of head lice - A, B and C. The clade A is found everywhere, clade B is common in both North America and Europe, and clade C is rare. There had been a theory that clade B evolved separately in the Americas and that European explorers carried A to the Americas and brought B back to Europe with them.

The mummies from where the lices wwre collected, belonged to the post-Tiwanaku Chiribaya culture and they were dated to around 1000 AD. Interestingly, researchers collected more than 400 head lice from one and 500 from the other.

Sequencing of the intact DNA of the lice showed they were all clade A. This means that, the lice strain was distributed across the Americas hundreds of years before the first Europeans arrived. Link


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