Friday, April 25, 2008

Parasites as probes for transoceanic human migrations?

A new study supports earlier evidence from parasite studies suggesting a seaborne migration to the Americas. This study seems to mainly analyze data from previous research involving helminths found in mummies and coprolites (dung fossils). There has been a flurry of articles recently supporting the theory of transpacific or transoceanic Pre-Columbian contact and/or migration between Asia and the Americas. Helminths are not found in Siberia, Alaska or northern Canada. One South American mummy that contained helminth (Ancylostoma duodenale) eggs dated back to 1500 BCE.

Trends Parasitol. 2008 Mar;24(3):112-5.

Epub 2008 Feb 11.Click here to read

Parasites as probes for prehistoric human migrations?

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz/Escola Nacional de Saude Publica; Rua Leopoldo Bulhoes 1480, Rio de Janeiro 2104-210, RJ, Brazil.

Host-specific parasites of humans are used to track ancient migrations. Based on archaeoparasitology, it is clear that humans entered the New World at least twice in ancient times. The archaeoparasitology of some intestinal parasites in the New World points to migration routes other than the Bering Land Bridge. Helminths have been found in mummies and coprolites in North and South America. Hookworms (Necator and Ancylostoma), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) and other helminths require specific conditions for life-cycle completion. They could not survive in the cold climate of the northern region of the Americas. Therefore, humans would have lost some intestinal parasites while crossing Beringia. Evidence is provided here from published data of pre-Columbian sites for the peopling of the Americas through trans-oceanic or coastal migrations.