Sexually Transmitted Bacterial Diseases

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Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Likely Difference
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Humans suffer from a large number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which can be viral or bacterial. While great apes carry sexually transmitted viruses, there is an apparent lack of bacterial STDs. None of the four major human bacterial STDs (Gonorhoea, Syphilis, Chancroid or Chlamydia) have been reported as naturally occurring in any of the great apes. Chimpanzees can be experimentally infected with only some of these organisms. Considering the high rate of multi-partner mating in chimpanzees and bonobos, the apparent lack of bacterial STDs is surprising. It is possible that all of these diseases emerged in the hominin lineage after our last common ancestor with the other hominids. It is also interesting to note that monogamy would limit the spread of STDs in humans.


Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Possible Appearance: 
6,000 thousand years ago
Definite Appearance: 
100 thousand years ago
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  1. Is the Romantic–Sexual Kiss a Near Human Universal?, Jankowiak, W., Volsche S., and Garcia J. , American Anthropologist, 07/2015, Volume 117, Issue 3, p.535-39, (2015)