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.
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- 12 things to watch before the Oscars
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night