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Home / Science / In the 17,000 year old Puma Poop you can take a look at glacial parasites NOVA | PBS | NOVA

In the 17,000 year old Puma Poop you can take a look at glacial parasites NOVA | PBS | NOVA



Even after thousands of years lying around, Mist can tell the story. A team of archaeologists reporting this week in the journal Parasitology and scouring a Puma Poo button has a 17,000-year-old DNA sample from Toxascaris leonina a roundworm that still persists , Cats nowadays plagues cats.

The dehydrated Dookie not only provides the hitherto oldest example of parasite DNA to humanity, it also raises some questions about the disease ecology of these big cats. In modern times Toxascaris is a common gutter of domestic cats and dogs that can transmit the worm to their wilder cousins. However, the results of the study indicate that prehistoric pumas must have caught the parasite in a different way: The poop's timestamp precedes the earliest known human settlements in the region and is believed to eliminate humans and their pets.

The team behind the discovery first stumbled upon the fossilized feces in the sediments of a rock in the Argentine province of Catamarca, nearly 1

2,000 feet above sea level. Radiocarbon dates showed that the two had been dropped sometime between 16,570 and 17,000 years – towards the end of the ice age.

"I was very happy when I discovered how old this DNA was," study author Romina Petrigh from the Argentine National Council for Scientific and Technical Research said in a statement. "It is difficult to regain DNA of such an age as it usually suffers damage over time." Petrigh attributes the immaculate preservation of the sample to the cool, dry climate and salty soils in the area, which quickly dehydrated the feces and its valuable genetic load and minimized breakdown.

An initial analysis of the size and shape of the turd revealed that it originated from a large animal in the cat or dog family – a theory that the team was able to confirm after extraction of the mitochondrial feces DNA. The genetic evidence pointed to a puma ( Puma concolor ), a creature that still roams the region today.

Also embedded in the shit were 64 small parasitic eggs that also contained readable mitochondrial DNA and identified these as the reproductive units of Toxascaris. According to Petrigh, that's a lot of eggs – enough to underline how successful this roundworm was, even millennia ago.

It is not clear how the cougar got infected, but it was probably one of two routes: when the cat devoured an infected rodent or swallowed the eggs laden manure of another animal. If it were the latter, it would be highly unlikely that the feces producing creature is a domesticated companion of humans. The oldest known place of human settlement in Argentina is only 11,000 years old (although Monte Verde in nearby Chile may have been occupied already 18,500 years ago and the timeline of human migration to America is constantly changing). 19659008] urn_cambridge.org_id_binary_20190816145947610-0789_S0031182019000787_S0031182019000787_fig2g.jpg "class =" jsx-1703612813 "/>

A Toxascaris Leonina egg (left, scale 20 microns) and the Puma feces (right, 20 millimeters). Photo credit: Petrigh et al., Parasitology, 2019

Even though humans were in the immediate vicinity of these pumas 17,000 years ago the timing of the domestication of dogs and cats is dim, and at least on the American continent However, the deposit does not set a certain sample of poop until that point in time.

Yet, the time capsule in this jerk remains "notable," said Piers Mitchell, a parasitologist at the University of Cambridge who was not involved in the study, Nicola Davis The Guardian [19659012]. The study is evidence of the concept that certain environments are capable of feces and evidence of infek Keeping deadly pathogens for many thousands of years, he said. "This makes it easier to record the evolution of different types of parasites over time."


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