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Mummy lice found in Peru may give new clues about human migration
Date:2/7/2008

them as they moved around the globe, he said. Called a parascript, its a whole other transcript of our evolutionary history that can either add to what we know or in some cases inform us about things we didnt know.

Looking at evidence from parasites perspectives, for example, may yield valuable clues about when the first Americans arrived on the continent and which route they took, Reed said. Building upon this DNA sequencing work, scientists may be able to link the 1,000-year-old lice found in the Western Hemisphere with those in Siberia or Mongolia, confirming existing theories that Americas earliest residents originated there, he said.

Had these immigrants traveled by land masses, there was a very small window of time, about 13,000 years ago, when the glaciers retreated enough to allow passage through the Bering Strait on the way to South America, Reed said. Another proposed theory is a seafaring route, but this would have required sophisticated oceangoing vessels for which no evidence from the time exists, he said.

Being able to chart these early migration patterns would give insight into how these early immigrants lived, Reed said. If youre skirting the edge of glaciers, its obviously a very cold time period and humans would have needed certain creature comforts just to stay alive, such as tight clothing to maintain warmth, he said.

Today, the people who dont have the opportunity to change their clothes are the ones at risk for epidemic typhus, which along with the lesser-known diseases of relapsing fever and trench fever are carried by body lice, Reed said. These pests lay their eggs in clothing fibers and washing the clothes is all it takes to get rid of them, he said.

The disease pops up primarily in refugees who have been displaced from their homeland with the clothes on their backs and nothing else, he said. Theyre living in crowded conditions where hygiene is poor.

Reed said he hopes the teams lice r
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Contact: David Reed
dreed@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-392-1721
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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