General Knowledge

The Sex Lives of Early Humans

Scientists might seem like the only group of people in the world who Aren’t really into a good gossipy sex scandal, but that, in fact, my friends, is not true at all They love to talk about sex Especially when it’s the sex lives of our prehistoric ancestors So, scientists are currently gossiping up a storm about the fact that our early ancestors, The first homo sapiens, may have interbred with some other species Which is weird It’s long been accepted by the scientific community that homosapiens, like me And probably you Originated in Africa around 200,000 years ago As far as we can tell, they stayed there for about 140,000 years, Until they started to get frisky and struck out into the unknown One of the things that those adventurous humans discovered out there in the wide world Was an older, more primitive, bigger-boned, species of great ape that we call Neanderthal You may call them NeanderTHals but we, and the scientific community, call them NeanderThals Because that’s what they called themselves.

Actually, it’s because that’s what the cave where their first fossils were found is called It was NeanderThal. Not NeanderTHal. It’s just how they spell it Neanderthals are, of course, related to humans, but their evolutionary lines had split about 350,000 years before But, just because Neanderthals and humans were not the same species, Did that prevent them from getting it on? No And it appears that we were similar enough species that we were actually able to create viable offspring Studies have shown that, despite the fact that Neanderthals went extinct about 40,000 years ago They live on In us According to this research, between one and 4 percent of human DNA is actually Neanderthal DNA So, you might as well unstitch your family crest from your smoking jacket But, Neanderthals might, actually, not be the only ancient hominids that humankind had intimate relations with.

The recently discovered Denisovans, Which probably shared more in common with Neanderthals than with humans Are showing up in the genome of people all over southeast Asia So, it turns out that we had a lot more choices of people Or, you know, sort-of people To mate with back in the olden days But, we’re not done messing with your conception of what humanity is yet, Because turns out that some of your ancestors may, in fact, have had sexy times with gorillas The reason they think this is not to do with our genome, it’s to do with the genome of lice And, stick with me, because yeah I bet you’re probably clicking away from the video right now So, most species of mammals have one species of lice that’s specific to them It lives on them and only them, but all over them Now, humans are a little different Because we have isolated pockets of hair.

We actually have two species of lice We have head lice and we have pubic lice And that’s different from every other mammals’ lice But, our pubic lice? Is very, very, surprisingly and upsettingly similar to the species that lives on gorillas No! God, no! Why did we even look into this? But, even if our ancestors were having sex with the ancestors of gorillas Which, hopefully, they weren’t I’m still keeping that as a possibility in my mind It probably was happening like 3.3 million years ago So, you probably don’t have to run straight to the shower and scrub your skin off with a pumice stone At the moment But, still, dang!.

Australopithecus You dirty dog If you ever want to watch an episode of Scishow again And I understand if you don’t But, if you do, please subscribe And you’ll be able to learn more horribly disturbing facts like the ones that we learned today Also, if you have questions, or comments, or ideas for other episodes of SciShow, You can get in touch with us on Twitter and on Facebook And, of course, in the YouTube comments below, where we will always be happily answering questions And we’ll see you next time Transcribed by Ethan M.

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