Monday, July 18, 2005

Polynesians tried to outrun malaria?

From the NZ Herald:

New Zealand researchers excavating a 3000-year-old cemetery in Vanuatu say it may offer clues to why mysterious voyagers who sailed through Melanesia - creating the Polynesian race - travelled so fast.

One possibility was that they were trying to outrun the worst form of malaria - not realising they were carrying the parasite in their bloodstreams, says New Zealand paleo-pathologist Hallie Buckley.

Early analysis of the first skeletons found late last year has shown the people had a heavy burden of disease-causing organisms, in particular parasites that cause malaria.

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