The mysterious origins of the Black Death revealed in new DNA analysis

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As we know from our experience with Covid-19, it is incredibly difficult to trace the source of a pandemic.

More than two years since the virus appeared in China, we still do not know how it spread to the human population or which animal or animals hosted the virus before the central event.

Humans have been living with microbes since our earliest days, but we are now “living in a time of pandemics,” said epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant, CEO of Pandefense Advisory, a network of pandemic response experts. However, thanks to DNA analysis, the scientific detective work needed to understand these pathogens has come a long way, as one of this week’s exciting discoveries shows.

This is Katie Hunt, who stands for Ashley Strickland, in this issue of Wonder Theory.

The Black Death was the world’s most devastating plague outbreak. It is intended to have killed half of Europe’s population in just seven years during the Middle Ages.

Historians and archaeologists have been trying for centuries to find the source of this pandemic, and now science has stepped up and given an answer.

Traces of diseases that made our ancestors sick – including the plague pathogen – can be found hidden in ancient DNA from human remains.

Genome sequencing of the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis, found in teeth excavated from two burial sites in what is now Kyrgyzstan, may have solved the mystery of the mysterious origin of the Black Death.

The life of a mastodon, an elephant creature that roamed North America 13,000 years ago, has been illuminated by a study of the supporting teeth.

For the first few years of his life, it was a mother’s boy – who lived near home with a herd led by women in what is now central Indiana before venturing out on his own. Mastodonten died at the mature age of 34, when the tip of another male mastodon punctured the right side of the mastodon. skull.

The creature Support teeth stored geochemical information absorbed from shrubs, trees and water it consumed, which allows scientists for the first time to put together where the animal traveled during his lifetime.

This is an artist's impression of a black hole drifting through our Milky Way.

We now have the most complete map to date of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, and it shows us some pretty cool things.

Some stars in the Milky Way have strange and unexpected “tsunami-like” star earthquakes, new data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope has revealed. The motion even changed the shape of some of the stars.

Hubble, another space telescope that scans the sky, discovered an equally exciting cosmic phenomenon.

The invisible, ghostly remnants of a once radiant star drift through the Milky Way. This is the first time a roaming black hole has been discovered – although astronomers believe there may be 100 million such objects floating around.

The dichotomy between dominant males and docile females is among nature’s most enduring gender stereotypes. A new book entitled “Bitch: On the Female of the Species” dispels this sexist misconception and tells a more complete story about the role of females in nature.

Female creatures are as promiscuous, competitive, aggressive and dynamic as their male counterparts and play an equally important role in driving evolutionary change, according to author Lucy Cooke.

Her work describes the life of a number of colorful animals that will shake your assumptions about what it means to be a woman: murderous meerkat mothers, unfaithful bluebirds and female dolphins who have an unusual strategy in the fight between the sexes.

An adult female polar bear (left) and two 1-year-old cubs cross a snow-covered freshwater glacier in southeast Greenland in March 2015.

Polar bears become thinner and have fewer young as a result of melting sea ice in their Arctic habitat, researchers say. but a new discovery can give a glimmer of hope.

ONE special population of polar bears that live in fjords in Southeast Greenland shows how this species can manage to survive as the climate crisis intensifies.

Unlike most polar bears, which hunt seals on sea ice and roam far, this distinct population has adapted to living in a smaller habitat and hunting for freshwater glaciers.

“If you’re concerned about conserving the species, then yes, our findings are hopeful,” said Kristin Laidre, a polar researcher at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory. ‘But I do not think so glacier habitat will support a large number of polar bears. That’s just not enough. ”

Marvel at these stories:

– The wreck of a warship that carried a royal VIP on its last voyage 340 years ago, has been found off the coast of England.

– Researchers have discovered why exactly cats get so mad after catnip. And it serves a more useful purpose than just making our cat friends feel drunk.

– Artemis I megamoon rocket is ready for its fourth attempt at a final pre-launch test. Fingers crossed.

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