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Exploring parasitism in antiquity through the analysis of coprolites and quids from La Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos, Rio Zape, Durango, Mexico

Johnica J Morrow, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Coprolites excavated from La Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos (CMC) were examined for evidence of parasitism utilizing both standard coprolite processing procedures and molecular techniques. A total of 100 coprolites were processed for microfossil examination via light microscopy. These coprolites contained the eggs of seven different genera of parasitic helminths (Echinostoma, Enterobius, Physaloptera, Taenia, Toxascaris, and Trichuris). These included members of three different taxonomic classes, Cestoda, Trematoda, and Nematoda, representing two taxonomic phyla, Platyhelminthes and Nemata. Of the coprolites, 90 were deemed suitable for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) analysis. A gram of each coprolite was extracted for analysis and tested for the presence of coproantigens specific to three diarrhea-inducing protozoan parasite species, Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia duodenalis, and Cryptosporidium parvum. All coprolites tested negative for E. histolytica and G. duodenalis; however, 73% of coprolites tested positive or likely positive for C. parvum. A total of 45 quids were also examined using ELISA analysis to test for human-produced antibodies made in response to Toxoplasma gondii and Trypanosoma cruzi infections. Though antibodies were not detected, additional testing of quids from this site suggest that taphonomic issues related to the recovery of human antibodies from archaeological materials likely played a role. The potential for future archaeoparasitological studies utilizing quids as source materials is discussed. The pathoecology of CMC is discussed in light of the new parasite data presented herein.^

Subject Area

Archaeology|Parasitology|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Morrow, Johnica J, "Exploring parasitism in antiquity through the analysis of coprolites and quids from La Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos, Rio Zape, Durango, Mexico" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10102325.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI10102325

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