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Archived Comments for: Apes, lice and prehistory

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  1. Parasite risks

    Ian Burgess, Medical Entomology Centre

    12 February 2009

    I found this overview analysis of great interest. It just goes to show how versatile and resilient most parasites are, considering their otherwise fragile and vulnerable natures.

    I found one point of error, Plasmodium vivax is not transmitted by Culex spp mosquitoes. Some of the rodent and bird malarias have culicine vectors but as far as I know none of the human infecting species can form sporocysts in culicines.

    Also I think strict herbivory is often not quite the norm in chimpanzees that is implied, they are opportunists that seem to feed on many things given the chance.

    Finally, great apes in Africa may not have schistosomes mainly because they are not widely known for their contacts with the relatively open waters likely to harbour the parasites, unlike some of the monkeys. In contrast the fishing, and apparently water loving, humans would have encountered these early on in their move away from dense forest.

    Competing interests


  2. Author response

    Robin Weiss, Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London, UK

    9 March 2009

    I thank Burgess for the correction concerning Culex mosquitoes.

    I agree that chimpanzees are certainly not exclusive herbivores, but they eat more tree leaves than humans do.

    As Burgess points out, humans engaged in fishing and swimming even if they were not an obligate 'aquatic' species.

    Robin A Weiss

    Competing interests