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

Alex Borisenko aborisen at uoguelph.ca
Mon Oct 26 17:54:08 CDT 2015

Hello Ken, 
The study appears to disregard the substantial body of research on the ecological aspects of the origin of plague by Sunstov et al: 
and a bunch of articles in Russian 
Personally, I find the ecological aspects of the formation of anthropurgic plague foci in Europe through biological invasions of rodents (roof rat) and fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis) to be quite intriguing... 
and perhaps even more intriguing that Europe may owe it to the Norway rat for stopping the pandemics. 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Kenneth Kinman" <kinman at hotmail.com> 
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2015 1:13:21 PM 
Subject: [Taxacom] origin of plague bacterium (Y. pestis) 

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 
P.S. The earliest forms of the plague were apparently pneumonic (rather than bubonic, which would evolve later). 
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