Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hookworms and Early Neolithic-Age TransOceanic Contact

Extract from an Abstract:
[Photos added by Dale D]

An example from the history of health-damaging organisms demonstrates our approach while illustrating the power this kind of evidence can provide in the study of human history and prehistory. The hookworm Ancylostoma duodenale causes one of the most widespread human ailments. The long-term prevalence of the hookworm in East and Southeast Asia makes that area the obvious source from which the organism reached the Americas.
A. duodenale was at first assumed to have been introduced by slaves brought from Africa. Early in the 20th century, Fonseca (not fully published until 1970) discovered the parasite in an isolated Amerindian population in the Amazon basin. Shortly afterward, microbiologist Samuel Darling (1920) pointed out that the hookworm apparently had infested South American tropical forest peoples since before Columbus arrived. If a date for the parasite in the Americas before European discovery could be proven, he observed, then the only explanation for the parasite in the New World would have to be that it arrived anciently via infected humans who had crossed the ocean -- "storm-tossed fishermen," he ventured.
His reasoning sprang from facts about the life cycle of this worm. In one stage it must inhabit warm, moist soil (in a climate no colder than that of North Carolina today). At a later stage, the worms from the soil penetrate a human host's body and settle in the digestive tract. Immigrants who came to the New World in slow stages via Beringia would have arrived hookworm-free because the cold ambient conditions would have killed the parasite in the soil (Soper 1927; Ferreira et al. 1988).
The hookworm's pre-Columbian presence in the Americas was established authoritatively by Allison et al. (1973), who found traces of the pest in a Peruvian mummy dated about AD 900. Evidence from other mummies and human coprolites has since repeatedly confirmed the initial find (Araújo 1988; Reinhard 1992). In 1988, Brazilian scientists identified this parasite from remains excavated in eastern Brazil. A series of radiocarbon dates fixed the age at about 7,200 years ago. Given the inland remoteness of the site, the organism's arrival on the coast of the continent must have occurred centuries earlier.
Can these findings be said to establish conclusively that early human voyagers crossed the ocean to the Americas? Is there some explanation for the presence of the worm in the New World due to natural forces, independent of human beings? Absolutely not. There is no alternative explanation. Modern microbiologists continue to assure us that Darling's assessment was correct. Ferreira, Araújo, and Confalonieri (1982) say, "Transpacific migrants from Asia by sea must be one component of the ancient American population." Fonseca (1970) asserts, "shared species of parasite ... make it inescapable that voyagers reached South America directly from Oceania or Southeast Asia." Ferreira and colleagues (1988) agree: "We must suppose that [the human hosts for the parasite] arrived by sea." Araújo (1988) confirms, "The evidence points only to maritime contacts" (emphases added).
This kind of fact, or secure inference, is vital in our present study. First, since A. duodenale could have arrived in the Americas only in the bodies of (presumably) Asians who came by sea, we can be certain [or we would therefore assume] that elements of some particular culture, as well as a set of Asian genes, arrived with them. Second, vessels capable of crossing or skirting the Pacific were already in use by the 6th millennium BC, and at least one of those craft actually reached South America, where its occupants passed the hookworm on to subsequent inhabitants.
A second species, Necator americanus, also called 'hookworm,' has been found in Brazil in prehistoric human remains of the same age (Ferreira et al. 1980, 65-7). Its reproductive cycle is similar to that of A. duodenale. Presence of this second organism confirms the fact that millennia ago nautical technology that would allow successful voyages across or around the Pacific existed in Asian waters.
Subsequently, archaeologists and paleo-pathologists have found decisive evidence in the Americas for the presence of 18 other infectious organisms from the Old World. Most of them could not have come with early Bering Strait migrants, and the others very likely did not. They include additional parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other micro-predators. Beyond the primary 20, there is enough evidence of transfer across the ocean of another 18 disease-causing organisms to call for further research on their pre-Columbian distribution...

Sino-Platonic Papers, 133 (April 2004) Scientific Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages to and from the Americas by John L. Sorenson and Carl L. Johannessen

In This case, I would propose an "Atlantean" TransAtlantic diffusion of the hookworm species during the oldest Neolithic and establishing the parasite in the New World by 6000 BC. I would NOT insist on this being brought over by TransPacific colonization simply because the parasite is well-known in Africa and is already assumed to have been introduced from Africa, although assumedly at a much later date.

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