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Human blood types have deep evolutionary roots

ABO system may date back 20 million years or more

Chimps, gibbons and other primates are not just humans’ evolutionary cousins; a new analysis suggests they are also our blood brothers. The A, B and O blood types in people evolved at least 20 million years ago in a common ancestor of humans and other primates, new research suggests.

The analysis deepens a mystery surrounding the evolutionary history of the ABO blood system, and should prompt further research into why the different blood groups have persisted over time, Laure Ségurel of the University of Chicago and colleagues report online October 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Their evidence is rather convincing that this is a shared, very old capability that has remained throughout the divergence of the species,” says doctor and transfusion specialist Martin Olsson of Lund University in Sweden.

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