Body Lice

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Humans are host to three different types of lice; the human body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis), the human head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis), and the human pubic louse (Phtirus pubis). Related head and pubic lice species also infect chimpanzees and gorilla respectively (Pediculus schaefferi and Phtirus gorillae). P. humanus appears to be an obligate human ectoparasite that lives in clothing. It is thought that the use of this ecological niche (clothing) arose only after human ancestors started wearing clothes on a regular basis. The divergence in DNA sequences from human body lice sampled in human populations around the world combined with the DNA sequences from chimpanzee lice has allowed researchers to estimate the surprisingly recent time of origin of the human body louse of approximately 100,000 years. Some have interpreted these findings as indication for the time of first regular use of clothing by humans.

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