The common cold predates man: Neanderthals suffered from it

A new study by scientists has shown that the common cold may have appeared on Earth half a million years before Homo sapiens and it probably suffered from it, even Neanderthals. Through the analysis of children’s milk teeth, which are more than 31 thousand years old, scientists found traces of DNA of several common viruses. Including adenovirus C, which is responsible for the common cold. The results of the study are published in New Scientist.

DNA traces of adenovirus C found by scientists suggest that one of the viruses responsible for the common cold is much older than modern humans. It most likely appeared on Earth more than 700 millennia ago and plagued Neanderthals with colds.

The teeth found in Siberia in 2019 were examined by a team of microbiologists from the University of Denmark in Copenhagen, who found microscopic strains of several well-known human infections, including adenovirus C and human herpes.

This is the oldest known evidence of viral infections found in humans. Previously, this virus was thought to have originated only 7,000 years ago.

According to the researchers, a comparison of the ancient strain of adenovirus with modern strains suggests that their common ancestor appeared between 487 and 963 thousand years ago, most likely 702 thousand years ago.