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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Richard III, Begnawed by Worms
3 September 2013 7:15 pm
It's not every day that the body of a king turns up, especially one who died in battle and was buried in haste. But last year, archaeologists discovered the skeleton of King Richard III under a parking lot in Leicester, U.K. Ever since, researchers have been looking for clues about his life. Using a microscope, the scientists found eggs, just 55 microns wide, of the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides where his intestines would have been in the grave. Adult roundworms grow up to 30 centimeters long, absorb nutrients from the gut, and can produce 200,000 eggs a day for a year. As published today in The Lancet, scientists found only a few eggs anywhere else around the remains or in the surrounding soil so they conclude that the eggs from his gut (see photo inset) came from a roundworm infection, not contamination of the soil. As roundworm eggs hatch, they dig their way through the heart and lungs, so Richard may have spit blood and suffered abdominal pain. It could have been worse: Noblemen like Richard ate a lot of beef, pork, and fish, which carry the other common gut parasite, tapeworms, but cooking prevents infection. Richard apparently had no tapeworms. He probably acquired his roundworms from water or raw food contaminated with feces, a common fertilizer during the Middle Ages.