Scientists may have just solved this 700-year-old mystery

Scientists may have just solved this 700-year-old mystery

As the world continues to grapple with the covid-19 pandemic, scientists believe they have solved the 700-year-old mystery of the world’s deadliest pandemic: the Black Death.

The journal Nature was published this month new research which says that biological evidence suggests that black death originated in Central Asia in a place now called Kyrgyzstan. And they believe that it is the grandfather of the torments that has followed.

The paper’s co-author Phil Slavin, a historian at the University of Stirling in Scotland, said NPR that the region “gave rise to the majority of (modern plague) tribes circulating in the world today.”

“Our study asks one of the biggest and most fascinating questions in history and determines when and where the single most infamous and infamous killer of humans began,” Slavin said in a press release about the study.

The Great Depression was the first wave of a plague that lasted nearly 500 years and killed about 50 million people in Europe and the Mediterranean. During a wave in the 14th century, researchers believe that it killed up to 60% of the western Eurasian population. But no one knew where or how it started.

The study is written by an international team that includes researchers from Germany, Italy, Russia, Scotland and Kazakhstan.

The Black Death was an ugly death. According to NPR, “Black death … got its scary name because the infected developed gangrenous, blackened lesions all over the body. The disease is characterized by fever and swelling of the lymph nodes and is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestisspread by rodents carrying infected fleas. ”

They note that the Great Depression “had a profound demographic and socio-economic impact in all affected areas, with the European historical record being the most extensively studied resource to date.”

Serious evidence emerges

The researchers believe that a plague strain was mutated into four different lines and the huge deaths developed from there. They suspect that it came from the Kyrgyz region because two cemeteries there had “an unusually large number of tombstones” dated 1338-1339, which was eight years before the Great Depression reached Europe.

These tombstones referred to “plague” as the cause of death, suggesting that the people buried there died in a pandemic.

Science Alert sa that about 30 skeletons had been taken from graves in the two cemeteries, located in the Chüy Valley in northern Kyrgyzstan in the late 19th century during excavations. The bodies were stored in Russia.

The paper’s lead author, Maria Spyrou, a geneticist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and colleagues used their expertise in ancient DNA to examine dental samples from some of these bodies. They said they believed that the teeth would give the greatest probability of finding DNA that could be studied, because the bodies were largely destroyed. And they found Y. pestis in the teeth of three of the bodies and confirmed that they died of plague.

Then they looked to see how close that tribe matched the Great Depression and other plagues that came later, creating an “evolutionary tree” that showed that subsequent plagues probably originated in the geographical area.

“Our synthesis of archaeological, historical and ancient genomic data shows a clear involvement of the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis in this epidemic event, ”the researchers wrote in the study. They noted that the ancient genomes were the same strain and “identified as the last common ancestor of a great diversification commonly associated with the emergence of the pandemic.”

The journal article notes that previous research suggests that warfare and trade networks may have helped spread the bacteria and the resulting disease.

Is it possible to track further?

The news study does not mean that the origin of the Black Death has been decided completely.

“I would be very careful to stretch it so far,” Hendrik Poinar, evolutionary geneticist and director of the McMaster University Ancient DNA Center in Ontario, Canada, who was not involved in the study, told NPR. “Determining a date and a specific place of origin is an unclear thing to do.”

He said, because Y. pestis is developing slowly, the sample they found could have started elsewhere in the region. But he called the findings significant.

Science Alert reported that “this new study, which suggests that the Great Depression occurred in central Eurasia, is in fact only the latest in a series of archaeological and paleo-ecological finds that are firmly paraphrase our opinion of the plague. “

Before this, some of the same researchers had traced their roots back to a city on the river in Russia.

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