The First Toothache

Why don't sharks need dentists? Believe it or not this isn't the set up of a rather surrealist joke but instead it's an interesting biological question. Sharks continuously loose their teeth throughout their life time and can have up to 30,000 teeth over that period. That's over 900 times as many as you or I... Continue Reading →

Tuberculosis in the Triassic

Very few infectious diseases leave their traces on your bones. This is a problem for palaeontologists because only bones tend to get fossilised, and soft tissues are vanishing rare in the geological record. Even when these are preserved they're extremely unlikely to reveal signs of any infection the animal might have suffered. Therefore very few... Continue Reading →

Neanderthal Inner Ear Infections?

Did Neanderthals die out because they suffered from chronic ear infections? That’s the possibility raised by a new study that has attempted to reconstruct the structure of the Neanderthal inner ear. Today middle ear infections are usually a minor hazard of childhood that clear up quickly following a course of antibiotics. Untreated though ear infections... Continue Reading →

Syphilis: New World or Old?

Earlier this month the discovery of a 700 year old skeleton showing signs of congenital syphilis was announced by the Medical University of Vienna. Although this might not sound immediately controversial the skeleton itself comes from St Pölten in Austria and that is unusual because syphilis was thought to have been imported to Europe from... Continue Reading →

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