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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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How Did Modern Humans Contract HSV2?

Monday, October 02, 2017

Paranthropus boisei herpesCAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Virologist Charlotte Houldcroft of the University of Cambridge and her colleagues think Paranthropus boisei may have infected the ancestors of modern humans with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2), the virus that results in genital herpes. According to a report in Live Science, an earlier genetic study of HSV2 suggests the virus infected the ancestors of modern humans between three and 1.4 million years ago. So, the team of researchers found tropical rainforest areas in Africa where the ancestors of modern chimpanzees may have lived during the last three million years. Then they layered the climate data with the locations of hominin fossils. The scientists found that Paranthropus boisei, known for its massive jaws and huge molars, was the most likely of the hominin species living during the time period in question to have come in contact with ancestral chimpanzees and other hominins. They speculate that Paranthropus boisei contracted the virus from these ancestral chimps and eventually passed it on to Homo erectus. For more, go to “Diagnosis of Ancient Illness.”

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