Parasites as probes for prehistoric human migrations?

Adauto Araujo, Karl J. Reinhard, Luiz Fernando Ferreira, Scott L. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Host-specific parasites of humans are used to track ancient migrations. Based on archaeoparasitology, it is clear that humans entered the New World at least twice in ancient times. The archaeoparasitology of some intestinal parasites in the New World points to migration routes other than the Bering Land Bridge. Helminths have been found in mummies and coprolites in North and South America. Hookworms (Necator and Ancylostoma), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) and other helminths require specific conditions for life-cycle completion. They could not survive in the cold climate of the northern region of the Americas. Therefore, humans would have lost some intestinal parasites while crossing Beringia. Evidence is provided here from published data of pre-Columbian sites for the peopling of the Americas through trans-oceanic or costal migrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-115
Number of pages4
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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