Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

December 2002


Published in Journal of Parasitology, 88(6), 2002, pp. 1266-1267. Copyright © 2002 American Society of Parasitologists.


Until now, Pthirus pubis infestation in ancient human populations had only been recorded in the Old World. We found crab lice on South American mummified bodies from the Atacama Desert region. Crab louse eggs were found attached to the pubic hairs of a 2,000-yr-old Chilean mummy. Well-preserved adults were found in sediment and clothing from a Peruvian mummy dated 1,000 yr ago. Paleoparasitological evidence expands the knowledge of the distribution of this ectoparasite in ancient populations. As with many other parasites, pubic lice recorded in Andean populations show the antiquity of this parasite in the New World. It is likely that P. pubis entered the continent with early human migration to the New World.