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.

Written by Charles T. G. Clarke

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Ancient Mosaic Criticises Christianity

An ancient mosaic from a 4th-century house in the centre of the ancient city of Paphos in Cyprus, was a 'pictorial' criticism of Christianity according to experts.

Geoscience: Cosmic Diamonds Formed During Gigantic Planetary Collisions

It is estimated that over 10 million asteroids are circling the Earth in the asteroid belt. They are relics from the early days of our solar system, when our planets formed out of a large cloud of gas and dust rotating around the sun.

Vettuvan Koil – The Temple of the Slayer

Vettuvan Koil is a rock-cut temple, located in Kalugumalai, a panchayat town on the ancient trade routes from Kovilpatti to courtallam, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The Testimony of Trees: How Volcanic Eruptions Shaped 2000 Years of World History

Researchers have shown that over the past two thousand years, volcanoes have played a larger role in natural temperature variability than previously thought, and their climatic effects may have contributed to past societal and economic change.

Sentinels of Ocean Acidification Impacts Survived Earth’s Last Mass Extinction

Two groups of tiny, delicate marine organisms, sea butterflies and sea angels, were found to be surprisingly resilient--having survived dramatic global climate change and Earth's most recent mass extinction event 66 million years ago.

The Venerable Ensign Wasp, Killing Cockroaches For 25 million Years

An Oregon State University study has identified four new species of parasitic, cockroach-killing ensign wasps that became encased in tree resin 25 million years ago and were preserved as the resin fossilized into amber.

Modern Humans Reached Westernmost Europe 5,000 Years Earlier Than Previously Known

Modern humans arrived in the westernmost part of Europe 41,000 - 38,000 years ago, about 5,000 years earlier than previously known, according to Jonathan Haws, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Louisville, and an international team of researchers.

Akrotiri – The Ancient Town Buried by a Volcano

Akrotiri is an archaeological site and a Cycladic Bronze Age town, located on the Greek island of Santorini (Thera) near the present-day village of Akrotiri (for which the prehistoric site is named).

Popular stories

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.