Sunday, March 11, 2007

Of Lice and Men

I've recently added the RSS feed from to my Google Reader subscriptions, so you'll probably see more stuff from there in Random News, but I had to blog this one because it offered such great headline potential.

It seems analysis of louse DNA offers clues about when we lost our body hair and when we invented clothes.

One of the more embarrassing mysteries of human evolution is that people are host to no fewer than three kinds of louse while most species have just one.

Even bleaker for the human reputation, the pubic louse, which gets its dates and residence-swapping opportunities when its hosts are locked in intimate embrace, does not seem to be a true native of the human body. Its closest relative is the gorilla louse. (Don't even think about it.)

Louse specialists now seem at last to have solved the question of how people came by their superabundance of fellow travelers. And in doing so they have shed light on the two major turning points in the history of fashion: when people lost their body hair, and when they first made clothing.
I should point out, as the Dawkins site does, that this story was first published in the Paper of Record.

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