Black Death by Seal .
5 Dec 2014
Pneumonic plague , like TB , was spread by seals . Hence the rapid spread by waterways , and ineffectiveness of quarantines .
1.TB spread by Seal .
Repeated in Appendix A below .
2. TB is spread by aerosol . So is pneumonic plague .
3.Putative transmission human to seal or dolphin .
Humans in quarantine on board ships with the pneumonic form swim and breathe bubbles .
Seals and dolphins swim through the bubbles .
It only takes a few viri to make it through .
TB , according to hard evidence , did . See Appendix A .
4. How long to cross the Atlantic ?
https://www.dolphins.org/sea_lion_info : at 6 mph , about 20 days .
https://www.dolphins.org/sea_lion_info : at 6 mph , about 20 days .
5.Which diseases are will cross ?
5.1 TB proven . Long term infectiousness .
5.2 Pneumonic plague . 40 days . See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com/2005/08/black-death.html
This could have been transmitted by cetaceans across the atlantic , then spread further by riverine humans and seals or otters .
5.3 Ebola .
Ebola seems to have at least four vectors :
Riverine mammals (otters , rats) , Bats , Plants , Humans . Hopefully , not birds .
Notice in map below that the countries affected all have sea-borders or river connections .
Haemorrhagic fevers are usually called after the nearest river . Nominative determinism , or unconscious connection ?
6.Bush meat .
The correlation usually made is that these genetic crossovers are caused by insufficient protein from fishing , leading to increased consumption of bush meat .
7. This has it backward , in usual human fashion .
Humans are obligate omega-3 consumers .
They have to get some extra omega-3 fatty acids . So they eat more sea-bushmeat like seals , otters , dolphins . All susceptible to Ebola .
This is the primary vector .
8. Warning :
This means that Ebola outbreaks can be expected on the Florida , Mexican , South American coasts . These would have been spread by dolphins or seals .
Remember , this has happened before with TB .
As expected, See http://www.itg.be/internet/ebola/ebola-50.htm for South American hemorrhagic fevers .
9.Black Death Spread by rivers and ocean faster than a horse .
Note the river and canal routes .
10 . The cure was worse than the disease .
Sigh . Quarantine of ships just massively increased the probability of pneumonic infection from humans to marine mammals , who then rapidly spread it .
11.This must have happened repeatedly in history to give all the hemorrhagic fevers in the America’s .
I would insist on a good biohazard suit before investigating a well-preserved North-American mammal circa 11000 YearsAgo
It seems that humans did not kill them . Something else did . See Appendix B
The end of the Ice Age did .
But not in the usual fashion .
As the ice melted , streams formed . They combined to form path to the sea .
The reverse is also true .
The sea could come to the herds in the hinterlands , long isolated .
Any mammalian disease , not just hemorrhagic fevers would spread in a virgin field .
The same thing repeated in the Arctic areas .
And is happening now .
Shit . Ebola in the Arctic circle is a distinct possibility . As well as something like 1918 Flu .
13. The Biggest and fastest killer : Flu .
A pneumonic viral disease .
Nearly did for the humans in 1918 .
“A cough at 08h00 and a coffin at 14h00”. This actually happened .
Reminding of mastodons “dropping dead” and then freezing . This actually happened to humans .
Well the dropping dead part .
“In August 1918, a more virulent strain appeared simultaneously in Brest, France, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in the U.S. in Boston, Massachusetts.”
Note the ocean/river connection .
14. Predictions :
14.1 Major Ebola and other tropical diseases appearing on the Eastern coasts of North , Middle and South America . Just look at the map .
14.2 At least two major Flu epidemics (1918 scale) will wipe out major mammals remaining on the Arctic . So get them into zoos now .
Why ? Gaia balancing books .
14.3 Unexpected desertification of previously temperate regions .
Gaia operates to keep 1/3 of the land surface of the planet desert , as an open mine for trace elements for the rest . Simple , elegant and proven .
Global warming causes massive rain on previous deserts (like California now Dec 2014) . Gaia compensates by creating new deserts .
Which happens to be somebody’s prized farmland .
Dessert is nicer .
Seals brought TB to Americas
Bacteria found in ancient Peru remains points to relatively recent origin of the disease and to its spread by sea.
20 August 2014
Infection from marine mammals could explain how tuberculosis spread to people living in Peru at a time when the Americas were already geographically isolated.
Ancient bacterial genome sequences collected from human remains in Peru suggest that seals first gave tuberculosis (TB) to humans in the Americas.
Modern TB strains found in North and South America are closely related to strains from Europe, suggesting that the Spaniards introduced the disease to the New World when they colonized South America in the sixteenth century.
Beginning in the 1950s, however, palaeoanthropological studies found evidence of lesions associated with TB in pre-Columbian skeletons in South America. This suggested that a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, the group of related bacterial species responsible for the disease, was present on the continent before European contact.
In a study published today in Nature1, a team led by palaeogeneticist Johannes Krause at the University of Tübingen in Germany provides DNA evidence for this theory. The researchers present three 1,000-year-old M. tuberculosis genomes extracted from human skeletons found in Peru.
“We wanted to reconstruct the genome of those ancient M. tuberculosis to obtain a sort of molecular fossil,” explains Krause. “Pathogens don’t leave fossils, but they do leave their DNA in the skeleton, teeth and bones of the victims of the disease.” Having sequenced the three genomes, the researchers set out to understand how these ancient TB strains were related to modern ones.
The general opinion in recent years has been that TB emerged about 70,000 years ago, and that modern humans first acquired it before leaving Africa2. These dates were worked out by measuring how much all known strains of TB bacteria differ from each other, and then using the rate at which genetic differences accumulate — a 'molecular clock' — to work out how much time was needed for all that diversity to evolve.
Krause and his colleagues did their own molecular-clock calculation, basing the rate of TB evolution on the differences between modern strains and the 1,000-year-old Peruvian ones. Their results suggest that the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all strains of M. tuberculosis evolved less than 6,000 years ago.
“This is a landmark paper that challenges our previous ideas about the origins of tuberculosis, not just in the Americas but in the Old World too,” says Terry Brown, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Manchester, UK. The date is so recent that it “suggests that previous estimates for the MRCA were wildly incorrect”, he says. However, he adds, more Mycobacterium genome sequences, and from different time periods, will be needed to confirm this result.
If these findings are correct and M. tuberculosis is less than 6,000 years old, they pose another conundrum. The microbe must have reached the Americas before Europeans arrived, but after the land bridge between North America and Asia disappeared around 11,000 years ago, Krause notes. “How did it get to America, say, from Asia, if there was no longer a land bridge?”
In the search for answers, the researchers decided to look at the genetics of 40 different strains of tuberculosis that infect animals. They found that the ancient strains from Peru were not like human-adapted forms, but were very similar to forms called Mycobacterium pinnipedii, which are adapted to seals and sea lions.
Mycobacterium pinnipedii has been transmitted from seals to humans in zoos. Brown notes that in the past archaeologists have speculated that this might have been a source of TB infection in coastal areas of South America, where seals were hunted.
Tom Gilbert, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen, says that the seal-transfer idea is certainly attractive, but he is cautious about the paper’s conclusion. “What’s more likely — that marine mammals gave rise to tuberculosis in humans in South America, or that we simply haven’t sampled enough relevant terrestrial hosts on the continent to spot the true ancestor?”
Krause agrees that because this ancient strain does not exist in people today, we cannot say for sure that it was adapted to its new host, meaning that it became transmissible from human to human. “To nail this hypothesis we would have to find tuberculosis in North America and in inland populations in South America.”
1. Bos, K. I. et al. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13591 (2014).
2. Comas, I. et al. Nature Genet. 45, 1176–1182 (2013).
12 February 2014
09 January 2014
21 May 2013
26 October 2011
25 October 2011
27 April 2011
Humans Are Off the Hook for the Mastodon Extinction
December 1, 2014 // 03:54 PM EST
North America once hosted a spectacular diversity of megafauna, including giant sloths, giant condors, and giant beavers (can you spot the theme?). But perhaps the most iconic species of the Pleistocene continent was the American mastodon, an elephant-like animal weighing about five tons, which suddenly went extinct about 11,000 years ago. But what drove this species, which was otherwise incredibly successful, to drop off face of the planet?
A paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sheds new light on this ongoing paleontological mystery, and suggests that humans, at least, are off the hook for the mastodon’s extinction.
“There was a provocative idea that came out back in the 1960s, called overkill, suggesting that the first people that came to North America across the Bering Land Bridge went on this rampaging killing spree,” lead author Grant Zazula, a paleontologist at the Yukon Palaeontology Program, told me over the phone.
“When people first entered North America at the end of the Ice Age, it was a small population, pretty sparse groups of people,” he continued. “To think of them just mowing everything down in front of them using spears is not a very satisfactory explanation.”
Comparison of mastodon (left) and a mammoth. Image: George/press release.
Zazula and his colleagues, including American Museum of Natural History curator and paleontologist Ross MacPhee, were able to rule out humans by revisiting and updating the timeline of the mastodon’s migration south from the Arctic.
They used two different methods of radiocarbon dating on 36 fossilized mastodon teeth, and discovered that the specimens were much older than originally estimated.
“In a nutshell, what we found that there isn’t really a basis for thinking that mastodons lived anywhere further north than say, the Great Lakes, except when conditions were especially warm like they were in the last interglaciation [about 125,000 years ago],” MacPhee told me over the phone.
The results suggest that mastodons were long gone by the time the last full glacial period was in swing 75,000 years ago, contrary to previous research. Humans didn’t make their way to North America until around 14,000 years ago, which means they could not have sparked the mastodon’s mass exodus to the south.
That’s not to say that humans didn’t contribute to the animal’s extinction, or to the decrease in megafauna more generally. But the species was already in deep trouble long before humans were on the scene—a finding that’s backed up by genetic analysis.
“You can use genetic diversity as a proxy for population diversity,” explained Zazula. “It’s been done with a number of Ice Age species, and what’s actually provocative about a lot of the data is that their populations are in steady decline leading up to the final extinction. These are populations that are going downhill anyway, and something happened at the end of the Ice Age that pushed them over the edge.”
“What’s causing that overall decline in diversity has to be something other than humans because for the most part, humans weren’t around,” he added.
Zazula cutting samples of American mastodon bones for radiocarbon dating. Image: Grant Zazula
So if humans didn’t kill off the mastodons, then what did? That’s the million dollar question. “There really isn’t a good answer, and that’s what makes the question interesting still,” said Zazula, “because the answer isn’t really clear and there’s still lots to be learned.”
Climate change definitely played a role by limiting the animal’s range, but that doesn’t explain the extremely sudden drop-off 11,000 years ago. “We know that these mammals went through numerous periods of rapid climate change in the past and our evidence shows that they were always able to pull through,” said Zazula. “So what makes the Ice Age so different that they just weren’t able to pull through?”
Some scientists have speculated that an extraterrestrial impact—from either an asteroid or a comet—was behind the swift disappearance of megafauna, but Zazula says the evidence for that is dodgy. Meanwhile, MacPhee has theorized that a pandemic may have raged through the mastodon population, effectively wiping them from the face of the Earth.
“Infectious diseases, particularly ones for which the species in question have no innate capacity to deal with—no genetically based immunity—could have caused essentially an instantaneous drop in population size, which is really what you need to do to provoke an extinction,” he told me. There is not a lot of evidence to back that up at the moment, but the last decade has produced major advances in detecting pathogens in fossils, so the theory may yet bear fruit.
For the moment, however, the death of the mastodon remains one of paleontology’s most alluring unsolved mysteries. “We’re really missing something,” said Zazula. “Something just doesn’t make sense. It really defies all explanation right now.”
But regardless of the reasons behind their beleaguered end, MacPhee thinks the species are entitled to more respect for what they did with their time on the planet.
“Mastodons never get good press and I never understood why,” he told me. “They were very successful not only in the old world but also in the new world. They got over most of the habitable part of the world at one time or another.”
Point taken. While it’s great to hear that humans weren’t responsible for edging out a species for once, the team’s paper is also a welcome opportunity to reflect on how truly awesome mastodons were—in the original sense of the adjective.