Seals May Have Carried Tuberculosis To The New World

Very few people suspected the seals.

Kirsten Bos from the University of Tubingen certainly didn’t when she and her colleagues started studying three Peruvian skeletons. They were just trying to understand the history of tuberculosis—a disease that has affected humans for millennia and still kills millions every year. Team member Jane Buikstra excavated three early victims from a site in southern Peru; their warped spines and ribs showed unmistakeable signs of the disease.

Even though the bones were around 1,000 years old, the team still managed to extract DNA from them. These included sequences belonging to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. The researchers calculated that these ancient ...

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