Ancient Bones From Troy Contain DNA Of Deadly Bacteria

Scientists have unearthed the ancient bones of a pregnant woman from the city of Troy which contain the DNA of deadly bacteria. Skull structure showed that the woman was 30 years old when she died and was carrying a male fetus. Nodules on her chest showed amazingly intact DNA of two kinds of bacteria that might have been the cause of her untimely death.

The ancient skeleton was found by archaeologists in the burial site of Anatolia, found in present day Turkey. Strawberry-like nodules on her chest, just below her ribs, were first suspected by experts to be caused by tuberculosis. Eventually, pathologists from the University of Wisconsin cracked them open and found "ghost cells" of two deadly bacteria that are amazingly intact.

Carbon dating of the nodules in the ancient bones found the deadly bacteria to be about 790 to 860 years old. Strains of Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Gardnerella vaginalis were found inside the nodules which surprised scientists due to how well-preserved the DNA are. Usually, only 1 percent of the DNA survives after this period of time, but the DNA are 38 percent to 58 percent intact, the Fox News says.

The bacteria are considered to be the main cause of death of the woman as these microbes commonly cause pregnancy-related infections. They typically attach to the lining of the uterus, affecting the amniotic fluid and placenta. Sepsis was ruled to be what killed her as the bacteria grew in impossibly large numbers in her uterus that they leaked out into her bloodstream.

According to the International Business Times, experts hail this discovery as the first ever historic record of maternal health. It is the oldest fossil record of the health of a pregnant woman deemed to be 800 years old. Basing on the skeletal structure, the woman led an incredibly strenuous life as a farmer which deformed her spine and joints.

Further examination of the skeletal remains shows that the woman was malnourished and was experiencing poor maternal health at the time. Health services were not available yet and pregnant women were left on their own to carry the burden of pregnancy. The ancient bones clearly show the huge difference of maternal health then and now.

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