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Humans caught pubic lice, aka "the crabs," from gorillas roughly three million years ago, scientists now report.
Rather than close encounters of the intimate kind, researchers explained humans most likely got the lice, which most commonly live in pubic hair, from sleeping in gorilla nests or eating the apes.
Humans are unique among primates in that we host two different kinds of lice—one on our heads and bodies (Pediculus), the bane of many schoolchildren, and pubic lice (Pthirus).
In comparison, chimpanzees have only head lice and gorillas only pubic lice.
For this species jump to have occurred, the ancestors of humans and gorillas "must have been in the same place at the same time, which was not known before," Reed added.
"The fossil record of gorillas in particular tells us very little about the gorilla lineage at the time this switch took place 3.3 million years ago."