In the fossilized excrement of a puma about 17,000 years old, palaeontologists have discovered the remains of the oldest parasite known to date.
The worms, the eggs of which were found, are very common in cats, dogs and foxes today.
It has long been thought that the worms spread to wildlife from domestic animals, but this finding suggests that may not have been the case. At the time when the puma passed its faeces with the worm eggs there were no humans in the area, so no domestic animals.
Fossilized faeces are called corpolites and do not stink.
At first look they are very similar to stone. They are important to scientists because they contain DNA molecules that are a real treasure trove of information.
From them we can take a lot of different information about the lives of animals and humans in the ancient past.
Thus, today we better understand what a tyrannosaur ate or what people in the Early Stone Age in Turkey had on the menu.
Scientists have isolated the oldest DNA sequences from horse bone preserved in permafrost in western Canada. It belonged to a kind of wild horse that lived 700,000 years ago.
The DNA of the first Scandinavians, who settled the Scandinavian peninsula about 10,000 years ago, was found in a prehistoric version of birch bark gum.
Points to Consider
- For what other purposes is the DNA sequence analysis used?
- What will remain on Earth after us?
- Which long-lasting materials are being used today?
The original version of this article was published on September 17th.