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Syphilis origins point to Columbus

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New analysis of skeletal evidence suggests Christopher Columbus returned to Europe with unpleasant cargo: the bacteria that evolved into syphilis.

Skeletons don’t lie. But sometimes they may mislead, as in the case of bones that reputedly showed evidence of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage in 1492.

None of this skeletal evidence, including 54 published reports, holds up when subjected to standardized analyses for both diagnosis and dating. In fact, the skeletal data bolsters the case that syphilis did not exist in Europe before Columbus set sail.

“The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus’ crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today,” says George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University.

Full story at Futurity.

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