Navigation Links
Voyages of discovery or necessity?

Ciguatera poisoning, the food-borne disease that can come from eating large, carnivorous reef fish, causes vomiting, headaches, and a burning sensation upon contact with cold surfaces. An early morning walk on cool beach sand can become a painful stroll on fiery coals to a ciguatera victim. But is this common toxin poisoning also the key to a larger mystery? That is, the storied migrations of the Polynesian natives who colonized New Zealand, Easter Island and, possibly, Hawaii in the 11th to 15th centuries? Could ciguatera be the reason masses of people left paradise?

Teina Rongo, a Cook Island Maori from Rarotonga and a Ph.D. student at the Florida Institute of Technology, and his faculty advisers Professors Robert van Woesik and Mark Bush, propose this intriguing theory in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biogeography. Based on archeological evidence, paleoclimatic data and modern reports of ciguatera poisoning, they theorize that ciguatera outbreaks were linked to climate and that the consequent outbreaks prompted historical migrations of Polynesians.

Why would historic populations of Cook Islanders take the chance of voyaging? A journey beyond the horizon was risky and favorable landfalls were uncertain. It is known that this population was heavily reliant on fish as a source of protein, and the scientists suggest that once their fish resources became inedible, voyaging became a necessity.

Modern Cook Islanders, though surrounded by an ocean teeming with fish, don't eat fish as a regular part of their diet but instead eat processed, imported foods. In the late 1990s, lower-income families who could not afford processed foods emigrated to New Zealand and Australia. The researchers suggest that past migrations had similar roots. The heightened voyaging from A.D. 1000 to 1450 in eastern Polynesia was likely prompted by ciguatera fish poisoning. There were few options but to leave once the staple diet of an island nation became poisonous.

"Our approach brings us a step closer to solving the mysteries of ciguatera and the storied Polynesian native migrations. We hope it will lead to better forecasting and planning for ciguatera outbreaks" says van Woesik.


Contact: Karen Rhine
Florida Institute of Technology

Related biology news :

1. NASA Earth system science meeting celebrates 20 years of discovery
2. Cells split personality is a major discovery into neurological diseases
3. Stowers researchers develop whole genome sequencing approach for mutation discovery
4. Google Earth aids discovery of early African mammal fossils
5. Penn researchers demonstrate a new model for drug discovery with a fluorescent anesthetic
6. Gene discovery could lead to male contraceptive
7. Bioscience institutions come together to launch Microlife Discovery Center for area students
8. Teeth of Columbus crew flesh out tale of new world discovery
9. Elephant shark genome sequence leads to discovery of color perception in deep-sea fish
10. Cellular discovery may lead to targeted treatment for rare form of anemia
11. New discovery paves the way for new diagnosis of serious lung disease
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. ... of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long ... even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners ... delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 In the present market scenario, ... for various industry verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, ... growing demand for secure & simplified access control and ... as hacking of bank accounts, misuse of users, , ... as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones are expected to provide ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... , October 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> adds Biometrics ... to 2021 as well as Emerging ... research reports to its collection of ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc (NYSE: MNK ), ... has closed the sale of its global contrast media ... Euronext) in a transaction valued at approximately $270 million. ... a total of approximately 1,000 employees spread across the ... Louis area. This entire workforce and the ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... England , November 26, 2015 ... an innovative medical device company specializing in imaging technologies, announced ... the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 European ... to carry out a large-scale clinical trial in breast cancer. ...      (Logo: , --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Studies reveal the differences in species ... the way for more effective treatment for one of the ... --> --> Gum disease ... cats, yet relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated ... conducted by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing ... AMA team leaders met with OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert ...
Breaking Biology Technology: