Monday, June 2, 2014

Amber answer

A tick preserved in 15-20 million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic offers the oldest fossil evidence of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, the often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized by the medical community about 40 years ago. The bacteria, which has survived since before humans walked the Earth, was the subject of a study and a published paper by researchers at Oregon State University. Author George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus in OSU's Department of Integrative Biology, has documented the ancient presence of diseases including malaria and rickets, and suggests that humans have been sickened by tick-borne bacteria from our beginnings. The oldest case discovered so far is that of the 5,300-year-old Tyrolean iceman. Poinar points out, "Before he was frozen in the glacier, the iceman was probably already in misery from Lyme disease. He had a lot of health problems and was really a mess."

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