Lice reveal the secrets of human evolution

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For many generations, in order to understand the way human evolution, scientists studied fossils left prehistoric animals, as well as a molecular footprint, encoded in the human genome. However, some researchers sure that a blood-sucking louse is a more suitable source for obtaining the necessary information. “For millennia it was lice that were closely associated with people. Despite the attempts humans get rid of these parasites, the persistence of lice made their potential reservoir of information for those who want to find out more about human evolution, “said David Reed, associate mammal curator. Lice not only pester their bites owners, but also help to pass the stages of evolution faster. For instance, as a species, human pubic lice appeared over 3 million years back, and they came from gorilla lice. This means that people and gorillas for some period of time lived in close proximity. In addition, it is most likely the bites of lice that caused people to clothe themselves into clothes, and this happened much earlier than we used to count. This probably happened before the ancient people left Africa. It turns out lice genomes may reveal information about kinship between modern people and their distant ancestors. Researchers have identified in the DNA of lice collected in around the world, the three main lines of mitochondria, called lines A, B and C, which helped science travel back to the distant past. It turned out that all these three groups had in common an ancestor who lived about 2 million years ago. Then after some time line C was separated from the group, and about 700,000 years ago, line C B repeated her fate and separated from line A. Having analyzed temporary periods of line split, as well as their current geographic distribution, scientists concluded that line C developed on a bipedal person, and line B – on Neanderthals. Scientists inspired by their discoveries continue work on the study of lice DNA. And although their work is related to computer modeling of the genetic evolution of lice has not yet passed an expert test, scientists are sure that very soon solve many secrets related to human evolution.

DNA Time Evolution

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