Where Did Head Lice Come From?
The origins of head lice, it turns out, are pretty interesting. As a parent you may be wondering where did head lice come from in the first place? First of all there is solid evidence that head lice have been traveling with humans for at least 170,000 years. Because 170,000 years ago head lice branched off from body lice when humans started to wear clothing. Hence head lice come from the common human lice ancestor that was shared by head lice and body lice some 170,000 years ago.
In addition, although all primate species have lice, humans have a different type of lice from other primates, and this divergence could have taken place up to 5.5 Million Years Ago. Because human head lice, also known as Pediculus humanus is an obligate parasite. Obligate parasites have adapted to survive on only one species. And in the case of head lice this means that head lice can only survive on a human scalp.
How have head lice been able to survive for so long on humans? First of all head lice are highly adaptable and have been able to develop resistance to the many chemical lice treatments that we humans have tried to use on them them over the centuries. Furthermore some of the pesticidal lice treatments available in 2019 could present lice pesticide health hazards for children.