Now there’s a new word for you! (or at least for me…) I’d never encountered it until I read a fascinating article at one of my favorite blogs, Small Things Considered. The word means the study of ancient micro-organisms, including human diseases. The subject is worthy of study. As the human population of this over-stressed planet increases there is no doubt we will encounter new viral and bacterial diseases; they are evolving faster than we are!

The article linked to below delves into some recent research into the origin and mutations of the dreaded plague virus. It’s hard to imagine, but 40% of the population of Europe was decimated by this disease several hundred years ago. It could happen again, notwithstanding the marvels of modern medicine.

A Pestis From The Past

If you happen to follow the link (go ahead, it’s better than kitten videos and Facebook updates!) take a little time and look through the archives of Small Things Considered. The site is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about the lives of the small living creatures who share our world with us.




Filed under Natural History, Science

6 responses to “Paleomicrobiology

  1. Joan

    Well, you see the thing is, unlike this, If I linked to Kitten videos and Facebook updates I would probably understand them. Maybe you’d like to explain the linked article? 🙂

  2. The plague virus evolved from a harmless species. It killed a lot of people a long time ago. It could do so again, especially if it mutates again. Stay away from zombified plague-infected people — bad news!

  3. Joan

    Or stay away from people who have been excavating plague victims and poking around their DNA. Who knows whether what they did up will not cause the germs to rise to mutate again….. muhahahaha. also (shudder)

  4. The disheveled biologist approaches, his pith hat askew and evil-looking buboes dripping with virus-laden pus dangling from his neck like wattles.

    “Joan! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you! Give me a big hug!”

    Joan darts glances left and right, wondering how she ever ended up trapped in this comment sequence… there has to be a way out!

  5. Joan

    Sadly the buboe-laden mythical biologist would be in no condition to walk. However, there is an easy way out for me. I just log off! (grin)

    Well, in my constant quest for info on ghoulish subjects I found that the bubonic plague is still around, altho maybe not as virulent. Arizona and other western states got a few cases in the ‘high country’.

    The old version: flea infested rats carried it without harm but another strain of rats died like (uh rats) from it. This caused their flea residents to jump ship and humans were the next vessel.

    Very very scary. If they got the lung infestation type they could be fine in the morning and dead by that evening. Two days max. Other strains took up to 7 days of agony.

    Not a fun thing to read about during our current e-coli scare.

  6. Darrell

    Joan . . just get some Lysol, Listerine . . . . and a zombie gun. A full tank of gas and a carton of cigarettes wouldn’t hurt either.

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