PHOENIX — Northern Arizona University scientists have reportedly discovered the source of a plague that wiped out millions of people in ancient Rome about 1,500 years ago.
According to National Public Radio, the scientists were able to trace the plague’s DNA from that leftover in the teeth of it’s victims.
“Some of the estimates are that up to 50 million people died,” says evolutionary biologist David Wagner at Northern Arizona University. “It’s thought that the Justinian plague actually led partially to the downfall of the Roman Empire.”
Wagner and his team believe the source of the Justinian plague is not the same as the one that caused the Black Death in the 14th Century, which was transmitted by fleas, but instead a bacteria strain that jumped from rodent to human before dying out.
The DNA also led Wagner’s team to believe the plague originated in China, the same location as the Black Death.
The Justinian plague went around in 541, claiming victims in Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Historians said it was so rampant people wore name tags in case they passed suddenly and thousands were buried in mass graves.
The study was sparked after the remains of several plague victims were disinterred near Munich by a housing developer. Their DNA, containing that of the Justinian plague, was extracted from dental pulp.
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.