Parasitology, Harold W. Manter Laboratory of


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Published in Trends in Parasitology, vol. 24, no. 3 (2008): 112-115. doi:10.1016/ Copyright 2008, Cell Press/Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Host-specific parasites of humans are used to track ancient migrations. Based on archaeoparasitology, it is clear that humans entered the New World at least twice in ancient times. The archaeoparasitology of some intestinal parasites in the New World points to migration routes other than the Bering Land Bridge. Helminths have been found in mummies and coprolites in North and South America. Hookworms (Necator and Ancylostoma), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) and other helminths require specific conditions for life-cycle completion. They could not survive in the cold climate of the northern region of the Americas. Therefore, humans would have lost some intestinal parasites while crossing Beringia. Evidence is provided here from published data of pre-Columbian sites for the peopling of the Americas through trans-oceanic or costal migrations.

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