For years, historians and scientists have said that much of the population of the New World died from infectious diseases brought by Europeans, for which the natives had little or no natural bodily defenses. Now a couple of new studies have found that it was Salmonella, along with war, that reduced Mexico’s population from an estimated 25 million to 1 million in the course of a century, effectively destroying the powerful Aztec civilization.
The first wave of the disease, in the 1540s, struck Mexico and killed as many as 80 percent of the nation’s inhabitants, says an article on Nature.com about the new research, quoting a recent paper on bioRxiv. Scientists say they have discovered the stomach bacteria in remains of people buried in the 16th century.
The Nature article, quoting a Danish DNA researcher who was not involved in the study, says this is the first genetic evidence of the disease that wiped out much of the native population after the Spanish colonized Mexico. The authors of the two articles are not responding to media inquires because they published their findings in peer-reviewed journals.
An Aztec Life-Death figure of the 900 to 1250 AD era (Wikimedia Commons)
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