Modern humans believe they created the singles scene. But, as one of our esteemed presidential candidates would say, "Wrong."
The existence of the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is proof positive that the unmated were mixing it up well before the advent of singles bars and Match.com. Thanks to Vox, we now know that humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans (another extinct near-human species) were actually mixing it up with abandon. The result was a transfer of HPV into the human population.
According to Vox, humans had sex with Neanderthals and Denisovans "many times in our history." Vox points out that "there was no safe sex, everything was transmitted." Life in the Boomer Lane, neither a scientist nor an expert on safe sex practices during bygone times, tends to agree. Safe sex during those times would have been mighty complicated, indeed, involving the use of condoms fabricated from mammoth hides.
Researchers conclude in a new paper in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution that Neanderthals "may have given us genital warts." The scientists go on to say that "The evidence here is inferred: There are no actual samples of HPV on human and Neanderthal fossils to compare. Instead, scientists used DNA and math ... Once there's a timeline for the evolution of HPV, we can compare it to the timeline of what's known about human evolution. And the two stories match up."
The bottom line, here, is that the human tapestry is woven from our journeys across the planet, our survival skills in adapting to diverse environments, and our ongoing need to boogie on down on Friday nights. All of this leaves its genetic imprint on our DNA.
The only question that remains is: With all that Neanderthals and Denisovans had going for them, why did they go extinct? The study specifically asks, "If we contracted HPV from them, what did they get from us? It's possible that humans spread diseases that brought about their extinction. Researchers at Cambridge and Oxford have suggested that Neanderthals may have been particularly susceptible to germs that cause stomach ulcers and herpes. The HPV we got in return is a nuisance, but not a threat to our existence."
In other words, Neanderthals and Denisovans got screwed, both literally and figuratively. A spokesperson for the last surviving colony of Neanderthals/Denisovans, living in a small community near Wildwood, NJ, had this to say: "We believe very strongly that the system is totally rigged against us. The left stream media has been instrumental in portraying us in a negative way. Why are they not focusing on all of the recently released pictorial documents showing humans in all kinds of smarmy activities over time? It's a disgrace. A disgrace. The bottom line, here, is that we do not accept the results of this study. And we are prepared to sue all of the human women throughout time who have brought charges against us of having given them HPV."