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Bacteria found preserved in Byzantine-era skeleton

Researchers have identified a case of maternal sepsis in a skeleton unearthed near the site of Troy. As archaeologists excavating a cemetery near Troy, the fabled city from Homer's Iliad, carefully removed the skeleton of a woman buried eight centuries ago, they noticed two chalk-like strawberry-sized nodules near her ribs. The unusual

Plague bacteria found in Roman-era remains

The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been found in DNA samples taken from the remains of 19 different people who lived in 6th century Bavaria. "After such a long time — nearly 1,500 years, one is still able to detect the agent of plague by modern molecular methods," researcher

Black Death bacterium genetically mapped

Scientists have genetically mapped the bacterium responsible for the Black Death. Mapping Black Death marks the first time an ancient pathogen has been reconstructed in its entirety and will allow researchers to track changes in its evolution and virulence over time. The study, published in the science journal Nature, sheds light on

Using bacteriea to restore ancient art

Biologists in Spain are aiding in the restoration of 17th century frescoes in a church by using bacteria to eat away the grime. The Valencia team "trained" a strain of Pseudomonas bacteria to eat the saline build up, which was caused by liquid seeping through from pigeon nests behind the frescos.

Living bacteria found in 34,000-year-old salt crystals

Scientists performing research in Death Valley have found living bacteria sealed inside 34,000-year-old salt crystals. The 34,000-year-old crystals have “permanently sealed” the organisms inside “like little time capsules,” Tim Lowenstien, a professor in the geology department at Binghamton University told the OurAmazingPlanet. Brian Schubert, who discovered the eons-old organisms, told the website,

Microbes bring ancient rock art to life

An analysis of ancient rock art in Western Australia has shown that its vivid colours have kept for 40,000 years because it is alive with microbes. While some rock art fades in hundreds of years, the "Bradshaw art" remains colourful after at least 40,000 years. Jack Pettigrew of the University of Queensland

Scientists revive ancient bacteria

Scientists have successfully revived ancient bacteria trapped in salt crystals for thousands of years. Lowenstein's team, which has been pursuing this problem for years, began by examining the fluid inclusions under a microscope. "Not only did we find bacteria, we found several types of algae as well," he said. "The

The birth of the plague: China

Medical geneticists have traced the origins of the plague to China. The strain of bacterium analyzed from the bones and teeth of a Hereford plague pit dug in 1349 is identical to that from a plague pit of 1348 in southern France, suggesting a direct route of travel. But a