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Humans caught more diseases after we domesticated animals

Analysis of DNA from human remains up to 37,000 years old shows that more infectious diseases jumped from animals to people after the dawn of farming

By Michael Le Page

20 October 2023

The bones of a person buried in a “plague pit” in London in the 14th century

Lefteris Pitarakis/ AP / Alamy

DNA from the bones and teeth of 1300 people who died up to 37,000 years ago has revealed what infectious diseases some of them had when they died – as well as how the incidence of some of these diseases changed over time. The findings show that animal diseases were much more likely to jump to humans after the advent of farming.

This is the first direct evidence that the domestication of animals led to …

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