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ancient health

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Why it is so hard for humanity to beat pathogens

In the first part of a review of pathogens in human origins, I examine a sampling of infectious diseases in people today and their diverse origins.

A colorful image of a virus preparing to enter a cell.
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Can ancient amputations tell us about the care systems of our ancestors?

A 33,000-year-old case of an amputated leg prompts comparisons to earlier Neandertal instances of amputation.

Skull of the Shanidar 1 individual with portions of the upper body skeleton visible, on a blue velvet table
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The top 10 discoveries about ancient people from DNA in 2022

Research on ancient genomes has moved way beyond population mixture into broader questions about how ancient people lived and interacted with their environments.

A researcher wearing protective mask, hair net, and gloves is reaching toward an archaeological profile with a test tube.
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Did Homo erectus get herpes from chimpanzees?

New research suggests that herpes simplex virus 2 may have invaded ancient humans from chimpanzees sometime after 1.6 million years ago.

Herpes simplex viruses in cell nucleus, Wellcome Images CC-BY
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Investigating Darwin's ideas about disease in Indigenous populations

A passage from the historian Alfred Crosby points me deeper into the texts of Charles Darwin.

The sailing ship H.M.S. Beagle with a small craft bearing dark-skinned people