Anti-Caturday: Of Lice And Men

Male human head louse by Gilles San Martin
Male human head louse by Gilles San Martin

Like many others, I have an intense dislike toward blood-sucking insects and lice are in no way exempt from this dislike. Unfortunately they are also quite fascinating. For example, did you know that lice are highly specific? I mean to the degree that there are two different species of louse for humans, one for the head, one for the body and one for the pubic hair. Most mammals have one to three different species of louse but the record is fifteen! That’s fifteen different species of louse that cannot live in any other animal or indeed any other part of that same animal and caannot survive for long outside a host.

The most interesting thing about lice however is what it tells about us. DNA research into human lice has provided us with a wealth of information about our own evolution. For example, head lice and pubic lice started separating from each other. But also that around 3-4 million years ago we acquired pubic lice from gorillas. With that lovely image I leave you.

Female human head louse by Gilles San Martin
Female human head louse by Gilles San Martin
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