January 24, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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Lice eggs on ancient mummies preserve human DNA and shed new light on South American history

Lice eggs on ancient mummies preserve human DNA and shed new light on South American history

Analysis of DNA extracted from the gum has confirmed the gender of all human hosts and revealed a genetic link between three mummies and humans in the Amazon 2,000 years ago.

It shows for the first time that the indigenous peoples of the Argentine province of San Juan migrated from the Amazon rainforest in the north of the continent, from what is now southern Venezuela and Colombia.

DNA analysis of the nits themselves confirmed the same migration pattern, from the plains of the northern Amazon to central western Argentina, and the Andes Mountains of San Juan.

DNA analysis also showed that all human remains studied belong to the first indigenous mitochondrial lineages of South America.

In addition, the first direct evidence of Merkel cell polyma virus was found in the DNA of one of the mummies. The virus, which was discovered in 2008, is secreted by healthy human skin and in exceptional cases can enter the body and cause a type of skin cancer. This finding opens the possibility of head lice spreading the virus.

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