Lice reached Americas before Columbus

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New York, Feb 7 (UNI) The Europeans may have introduced measles and smallpox to America but fresh DNA samples absolves Columbus of the responsibility of bringing the most common parasite, lice to the people he discovered.

In a reasearch which reminds one of the making of dinosaurs in the Steven Spielberg classic Jurassic Park, scientists have found two fossilised bodies, so exquisitely preserved by nature that the lice in their braided hair was also mummified.

According to scientists the two individuals died 1000 years ago in the region what is now Peru.

Scientists extracted well preserved louse DNA to establish that the parasites accompanied their human hosts in the original population of Amercia, as early as 15,000 years ago, New York Times reported.

Evolutionary biologists maintain that the new technique for studying mummies give valuable insights into human migrations and the spread of disease.

The research conducted by Didier Raoult of the National Center for Scientific Research in Marseille, France, and David L. Reed of the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville proved that 11th century Americans already hosted the prevalent type-A strain of lice.

Diseases spread by lice include epidemic typhus, trench fever and relapsing fever, which are now treatable with antibiotics.


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