Who gave humans genital herpes? Maybe this ancient ancestor

Paranthropus boisei forensic facial reconstruction

Genital herpes infects about one in six American adults. But who was patient zero, the individual responsible for this irritating scourge? Researchers in England believe they’ve found him, or at least his species: Paranthropus boisei, a heavyset, bipedal hominin likely passed the first case of genital herpes to our ancient ancestors.

They already knew that HSV2, the virus responsible for genital herpes, probably entered early humans before they left Africa. And that initial entry would have enabled its spread to wherever they migrated.


Simon Underdown, an anthropologist at Oxford University and lead study author, told Newsweek that just one infected ancient human ancestor could have caused this virus to spread throughout the entire species. “We know a lot of these species did not have large population sizes and from a biological point of view it would only need one infection to jump across,” said Underdown.

Underdown doesn’t think the initial infection was sexually transmitted because. It’s highly unlikely that humans would have found the P. boisei “sexually appealing,” he says. Following the initial infection, HSV2 likely spread from the mouth to the genitals through touch, perhaps from urinating or scratching. And once the virus found a home with humans, it stayed.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Meet Paranthropus Boisei, The Ancient Hominim That Gave Humans Genital Herpes

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