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Re: Amber May Release Ancient Disease-Causing Microbes



>>I would imagine that any bacteria trapped in amber, or any other substance,
>>may
>>escape regardless of human intervention.  Amber will erode if exposed, it can
>>break.  Human activity may make it more likely, but does it really pose a
>>threat that would otherwise not exist?
>
>I've heard some years ago that someone once proposed that perhaps the
>Bubonic Plague during the Dark Ages was initiated by the release of
>ancient microbes from amber.  I never did hear any followups on
>that.

Actually, the bubonic plague has been kicking around for quite a long time
in southern Asia.  It was the increase in European-Middle Eastern-Asian
trade during the mid-Middle Ages that brought the disease to Europe.

One aspect of this debate that hasn't been brought up is the fact that our
ancestors weathered diseases in the past, so we might have some immunity
for them left in our genes.

                                
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.                                   
tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile                  Phone:      703-648-5280
U.S. Geological Survey                                FAX:      703-648-5420
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092
U.S.A.