[Taxacom] origin of plague bacterium (Y. pestis)

Kenneth Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 23 12:13:21 CDT 2015


Hi all,
     There's a fascinating paper in the latest issue of the journal Cell published yesterday.  The common ancestor of the bacterium which causes pneumonic plague (Y. pestis) is estimated to be about 5800 years ago, and it appears earliest in southern Siberia (just north of Kazakhstan).   
      I would point out that this would be roughly the time when the first waves of Kurgan people (proto-Indo-Europeans) were riding their domesticated horses west from the Kazakhstan region (the same general area where horses were first domesticated).  If some Kurgan people had acquired immunity to the disease, they could have been like the Spanish Conquistadors in the Americas, riding in on horses in relatively small numbers and more easily conquering local people by spreading diseases (like smallpox among the Aztecs and other populations that had no immunity).  Anyway, to me it looks like if it hadn't been for plague, Indo-European languages (and R1b and R1a haplogroups) might not have spread across Europe.                                              ------------Ken                                  
     http://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674(15)01322-7
P.S.  The earliest forms of the plague were apparently pneumonic (rather than bubonic, which would evolve later).   		 	   		  


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