Daily Archives: December 20, 2016

Ancient DNA reveals genetic legacy of pandemics in the Americas

dna-profile-bluePrehistoric America was not a disease-free utopia. Tuberculosis, treponemal disease, Chagas disease, and many other pathogens were endemic to populations in different regions of the continent. But the “Columbian Exchange” beginning in 1492 introduced new pathogens to American populations, including smallpox, measles, influenza, and yellow fever. This introduction had devastating consequences for tribes. In some places, death from infectious disease resulted in the depopulation of entire regions, leading to the collapse of social, economic, and political institutions, and the loss of many traditional cultural practices and ways of life.

New Database Helps Families ID People Who Died Crossing the Border

south-texashe promise of life in the United States led about 170,000 people to cross the border illegally in 2015. But those crossings aren’t always successful: This year alone, at least 409 people are thought to have gone missing or died while crossing the U.S./Mexico border or evading immigration officials after entering the U.S. Those people may die in anonymity, but they are not always forgotten. As Yara Simón reports for Remezcla, a new project is helping families of the missing identify the dead using the items they leave behind.