Fish and mammals in the economy of an ancient Peruvian kingdom.
Fish and mammal bones from the coastal site of Cerro Azul, Peru shed light on economic specialization just before the Inca conquest of A. D. 1470. The site devoted itself to procuring anchovies and sardines in quantity for shipment to agricultural communities. These small fish were dried, stored, and eventually transported inland via caravans of pack llamas. Cerro Azul itself did not raise llamas but obtained charqui (or dried meat) as well as occasional whole adult animals from the caravans. Guinea pigs were locally raised. Some 20 species of larger fish were caught by using nets; the more prestigious varieties of these show up mainly in residential compounds occupied by elite families. (+info)
A simple and efficient method for PCR amplifiable DNA extraction from ancient bones.
A simple and effective modified ethanol precipitation-based protocol is described for the preparation of DNA from ancient human bones. This method is fast and requires neither hazardous chemicals nor special devices. After the powdering and incubating of the bone samples Dextran Blue was added as a carrier for removing the PCR inhibitors with selective ethanol precipitation. This method could eliminate the time-consuming separate decalcification step, dialysis, application of centrifugation-driven microconcentrators and the second consecutive PCR amplification. The efficiency of this procedure was demonstrated on ten 500-1200-year-old human bones from four different Hungarian burial sites. A mitochondrial specific primer pair was used to obtain sequence information from the purified ancient DNA. The PCR amplification, after our DNA extraction protocol, was successful from each of the 10 bone samples investigated. The results demonstrate that extraction of DNA from ancient bone samples with this new approach increases the success rate of PCR amplification. (+info)
Involving women in HIV vaccine efficacy trials: lessons learned from a vaccine preparedness study in New York City.
This paper identifies the recruitment strategies and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk behaviors of at-risk women in an HIV vaccine preparedness study in New York City, assesses how these behaviors changed over time, and draws implications for women's involvement in HIV vaccine efficacy trials. Noninjecting HIV-1 negative women (N = 89) were recruited into an HIV vaccine preparedness study. An observational cohort study design was used. Women were recruited from clinics and community-based organizations (40%), through other study participants (24%), through newspaper advertisements (20%), and through street outreach (16%). Most women who refused (72%) also came from clinics and agencies. Retention after 12 months was 67%; after 18 months, it was 62%. The proportion of women reporting unprotected vaginal sex in the previous 3 months was 85% at baseline and declined to 70% after 12 months (P < .05). There have been no seroconversions detected. Recruitment efforts to include at-risk women in HIV vaccine efficacy trials must be diverse and actively involve community agencies. Successfully retaining these cohorts over time and detecting a high enough HIV seroincidence rate present ongoing challenges that will need to be addressed to ensure women's involvement in future trials in the US. (+info)
First European exposure to syphilis: the Dominican Republic at the time of Columbian contact.
Recognition of syphilis in Europe in the late 15th century and its prior absence suggest New World origin. Skeletal populations were examined from sites with documented Columbian contact in the Dominican Republic. Examination of 536 skeletal remains revealed periosteal reaction characteristic of treponemal disease in 6%-14% of the afflicted population. Findings were identical to that previously noted in confirmed syphilis-affected populations and distinctive from those associated with yaws and bejel: it was a low population frequency phenomenon, affecting an average of 1.7-2.6 bone groups, often asymmetric and sparing hands and feet, but associated with significant tibial remodeling. While findings diagnostic of syphilis have been reported in the New World, actual demonstration of syphilis in areas where Columbus actually had contact was missing, until now. The evidence is consistent with this site as the point of initial contact of syphilis and of its subsequent spread from the New World to the Old. (+info)
Molecular identification by "suicide PCR" of Yersinia pestis as the agent of medieval black death.
Medieval Black Death is believed to have killed up to one-third of the Western European population during the 14th century. It was identified as plague at this time, but recently the causative organism was debated because no definitive evidence has been obtained to confirm the role of Yersinia pestis as the agent of plague. We obtained the teeth of a child and two adults from a 14th century grave in France, disrupted them to obtain the pulp, and applied the new "suicide PCR" protocol in which the primers are used only once. There were no positive controls: Neither Yersinia nor Yersinia DNA were introduced in the laboratory. A negative result is followed by a new test using other primers; a positive result is followed by sequencing. The second and third primer pair used, coding for a part of the pla gene, generated amplicons whose sequence confirmed that it was Y. pestis in 1 tooth from the child and 19/19 teeth from the adults. Negative controls were negative. Attempts to detect the putative alternative etiologic agents Bacillus anthracis and Rickettsia prowazekii failed. Suicide PCR avoids any risk of contamination as it uses a single-shot primer-its specificity is absolute. We believe that we can end the controversy: Medieval Black Death was plague. (+info)
Facts and fiction surrounding the discovery of the venous valves.
Venous valves are delicate structures, the integrity of which is crucial for the normal function of the venous system. Their abnormalities lead to widespread disorders, ranging from chronic venous insufficiency to life-threatening thromboembolic phenomena. The discovery of the venous valves, however, has been the subject of hot controversy. Even though Fabricius ab Aquapendente is credited with the discovery by most historians, we demonstrate in this paper that other anatomists described them many years before Fabricius ab Aquapendente publicly demonstrated them in Padua in 1579. A thorough review of the historical literature surrounding the discovery of the venous valves was carried out from 1545 to the present under the supervision of the Medical History Department of our institution. Research was performed at the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine and through MEDLINE access to the medical literature. The Parisian Charles Estienne first mentioned the venous valves in his 1545 publication when he described "apophyses membranarum" in the veins of the liver. Lusitanus and Canano publicly demonstrated them in the azygos vein during cadaver dissections performed in Ferrera, Italy. The Parisian Jacques Sylvius described valves in the veins of the extremities in 1555. The work of these anatomists, however, could not achieve full recognition, because Andreas Vesalius, the leading anatomist at that time, was unable to confirm their findings and strongly denied the existence of venous valves. Vesalius's influence was so powerful that research on the subject was idle until 1579, when Fabricius ab Aquapendente "discovered" the venous valves. About the same time, the German Salomon Alberti published the first drawings of a venous valve (in 1585). William Harvey, a disciple of Fabricius ab Aquapendente, finally postulated the function of the venous valves, providing anatomical support for one of the greatest discoveries in medicine: the blood circulation. Therefore, our investigations revealed that Estienne and Canano discovered the venous valves in the 1530s. Fabricius ab Aquapendente's achievement was their full recognition 64 years later. However, it was not until 1628 that their function was fully understood, with the discovery of the blood circulation by William Harvey. (+info)
Fecal steroids of the coprolite of a Greenland Eskimo mummy, AD 1475: a clue to dietary sterol intake.
BACKGROUND: Sterols in feces reflect sterols in the diet. In previous analyses of the fecal steroids in 1000-2000-y-old Native American coprolites found in the dry caves of Nevada, we showed that the sterol nucleus was stable. The coprolites provided useful dietary information. OBJECTIVE: In the present study, we analyzed the fecal steroids of an Eskimo mummy buried and frozen >500 y ago in Greenland. We compared these analyses with our findings in the coprolites from Nevada and in present-day stool samples from Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and Americans consuming low- and high-cholesterol diets. DESIGN: The fecal material from the Eskimo mummy was subjected to saponification, extraction, and digitonin precipitation. The sterols and bile acids were further analyzed by thin-layer chromatography and gas-liquid chromatography. RESULTS: The fecal steroids of the Greenland Eskimo mummy were remarkably similar to those of present-day stool samples. However, unlike in the stool of modern humans, a portion of the neutral steroids in the coprolite had been converted to sterol epimers. Instead of deoxycholic acid, 3alpha,6beta,12alpha-trihydroxycholanic acid was one of the major fecal bile acids. The plant sterol output in the coprolite was only 0.4% of the output of Americans consuming 250-400 mg plant sterols/d. The ratio of bile acid to cholesterol in the coprolite was similar to that in stool from Tarahumara Indians consuming a low-cholesterol diet. CONCLUSION: The sterol nucleus is stable when frozen. The analysis of coprolite showed that the young Eskimo woman had consumed a diet very low in plant sterols and moderate to low in cholesterol content. (+info)
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516): paleopathology of the medieval disabled and its relation to the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010.
BACKGROUND: At the start of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010, a paleopathologic study of the physically disabled may yield information and insight on the prevalence of crippling disorders and attitudes towards the afflicted in the past compared to today. OBJECTIVE: To analyze "The procession of the Cripples," a representative drawing of 31 disabled individuals by Hieronymus Bosch in 1500. METHODS: Three specialists--a rheumatologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a neurologist--analyzed each case by problem-solving means and clinical reasoning in order to formulate a consensus on the most likely diagnosis. RESULTS: This iconographic study of cripples in the sixteenth century reveals that the most common crippling disorder was not a neural form of leprosy, but rather that other disorders were also prevalent, such as congenital malformation, dry gangrene due to ergotism, post-traumatic amputations, infectious diseases (Pott's, syphilis), and even simulators. The drawings show characteristic coping patterns and different kinds of crutches and aids. CONCLUSION: A correct clinical diagnosis can be reached through the collaboration of a rheumatologist, an orthopedist and a neurologist. The Bone and Joint Decade Project, calling for attention and education with respect to musculoskeletal disorders, should reduce the impact and burden of crippling diseases worldwide through early clinical diagnosis and appropriate treatment. (+info)