Hominin STD Clinic – How disease can shed light on the migration of our ancient ancestors

Related Articles

Related Articles

As our ancient ancestors and cousins evolved many infectious diseases evolved with them. Many of these pathogens have short unpleasant moments in our bodies today, there are some which once contracted remain with us for life.

These pathogens in particular can help shed light on their migrations and by extension, our ancient ancestors migration throughout planet earth. One of the advantages of a smaller genome is that we can see rapid evolution within a short space of time. Compared to human genomes, pathogens have had more time to build up enough differences and therefore makes it much easier to track movements.

The Arabian Slave Trade remains one of the darkest eras in African history. Little documentary evidence survives of population sizes and therefore the dramatic decline in population thanks to the slave trade, but estimates range from 17 million to 200 million people.

Very little research has been conducted to shed light on the evolution of communicable diseases especially sexually transmitted diseases. Hopefully future research will change this, but we have gained great insights into the effects of the Transatlantic slave trade. The human immunodeficiency virus spread throughout western Africa via the colonial rail networks which were laid down to help improve the ease of movement between important regions.

Little did the colonial powers know that they were facilitating the ease of movement of the HIV. The latter was not the only disease to make its way to the Americas, one of the most interesting paracites is Schistosoma mansoni whose lifecycle revolves around a freshwater snail, but the advent of freshwater fishing has meant that S. mansoni evolved a two-part lifecycle which now includes a human host.

The Herpes simplex virus has also benefited from migration movements brought about by colonialism. Humans are unique animals in having two different groups of the herpes simplex virus, one usually found around the mouth, the other found around the genital region. Dr. Charlotte Houldcroft of the University of Cambridge, UK set out bring together lines of evidence from epidemiology and archaeology to find out which hominin may have been the first to contract the genital herpes from the ancient ancestors of the chimpanzee.


Subscribe to more articles like this by following our Google Discovery feed - Click the follow button on your desktop or the star button on mobile. Subscribe

Written by Charles T. G. Clarke

- Advertisement -

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Drones Map High Plateaus Basin in Moroccan Atlas to Understand Human Evolution

Researchers from the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) have been using drones to create high-resolution aerial images and topographies to compile maps of the High Plateaus Basin in Moroccan Atlas.

The Kerguelen Oceanic Plateau Sheds Light on the Formation of Continents

How did the continents form? Although to a certain extent this remains an open question, the oceanic plateau of the Kerguelen Islands may well provide part of the answer, according to a French-Australian team led by the Géosciences Environnement Toulouse laboratory.

Ancient Societies Hold Lessons for Modern Cities

Today's modern cities, from Denver to Dubai, could learn a thing or two from the ancient Pueblo communities that once stretched across the southwestern United States. For starters, the more people live together, the better the living standards.

Volubilis – The Ancient Berber City

Volubilis is an archaeological site and ancient Berber city that many archaeologists believe was the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania.

Pella – Birthplace of Alexander The Great

Pella is an archaeological site and the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon.

New Argentine fossils uncover history of celebrated conifer group

Newly unearthed, surprisingly well-preserved conifer fossils from Patagonia, Argentina, show that an endangered and celebrated group of tropical West Pacific trees has roots in the ancient supercontinent that once comprised Australia, Antarctica and South America, according to an international team of researchers.

High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs

The tree of life is rich in examples of species that changed from living in water to a land-based existence.

Fish fossils become buried treasure

Rare metals crucial to green industries turn out to have a surprising origin. Ancient global climate change and certain kinds of undersea geology drove fish populations to specific locations.

Archaeologists Discover Viking Toilet in Denmark

Archaeologists excavating a settlement on the Stevns Peninsula in Denmark suggests they have discovered a toilet from the Viking Age.

Innovation by ancient farmers adds to biodiversity of the Amazon, study shows

Innovation by ancient farmers to improve soil fertility continues to have an impact on the biodiversity of the Amazon, a major new study shows.

Popular stories