National Geographic

Why Do We Have Blood Types?

Knowing your blood types can be a matter of life and death. So you might think that scientists had a clear idea of why we have them in the first place. I’ve written a feature for Mosaic, a new online magazine about medicine, in which I try to get the answer. It proves a lot harder than I expected. Check it out.

There are 7 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Carlsthenz Wyka
    July 15, 2014

    Because we are live :D

  2. manny
    July 16, 2014

    its part of evolution

  3. Kudzu
    July 16, 2014

    And both of those answers are politicians answers, 100% correct and 100% useless.

    Good article, sheds some light.

  4. Sarcle Aeolist
    July 17, 2014

    You could look into the Duffy blood group. When people are educated in blood banking, they usually run into charts indicating the previlance of particular antigens in different populations. A large portion of caucasians have Duffy, but it is far less common in people of recent african descent (IE people who’s ancestors didn’t migrate out to form the european, asiatic and “races”). The more lethal species of the Malarial parasites use these antigens as entry points into red blood cells, while lacking them doesn’t make one immune, it seems to reduce the risk of getting a clinical case of malaria.

  5. Laura
    July 17, 2014

    Do other animal have different blood types or is it just a human thing?

  6. Ayinde John Olusegun
    July 19, 2014

    Having blood type is the quickest way to save a life in case of accident and also in marriage ur blood type will determine if couples are compatable for marriage after kmowing eachother blood type.

  7. Peter Klaren
    July 19, 2014

    You seem to miss a lot of other bloodtypes other than AB and Rh (Kell, Kidd, Lutheran, Dufffy, MNSs…). See table 4.1 in Mielke, Konigsberg & Relethford’s “Human biological variation” (2006, OUP).

    They also offer a plausible explanation (different bloodtypes offer some protection against colonization by pathogens and parasites for which blood cell proteins act as a receptor) for the existence of different blood groups.

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