Jan 16, 2018

Ancient teeth hold clues to one of history's worst plagues

The Mixtec people, who created vast civilizations, including this one near Oaxaca, were devastated by a mysterious illness. Photo: DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Contributor

A mysterious illness that devastated native civilizations in the 1500s may have been identified, according to a paper published Monday in Nature Ecology and Evolution. “In less than a century, the number of people living in Mexico fell from an estimated 20 million to 2 million,” writes The Atlantic’s Sarah Zhang. The researchers found DNA from Salmonella enterica, which causes paratyphoid fever, in the teeth of 11 people.

Why it matters: Some scholars believe such plagues made it easier for the Spanish and English to conquer the complex, sophisticated nations that existed in the Americas before Columbus’ arrival. European colonists brought dozens of diseases to the Americas (and brought a smaller number back to Europe). Since native populations had no immunities, the pathogens swept through towns, killing millions long before the colonists themselves arrived.

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Police officer in George Floyd killing arrested

A protester with a sign with George Floyd's last words. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer involved in the killing of George Floyd, was taken into custody Friday by Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, according to the Star Tribune's Briana Bierschbach.

The state of play: Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that there was no additional charging information yet, as that decision is in the jurisdiction of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

Trump forces fateful choices on Twitter and Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's war with Twitter is confronting social media platforms with a hard dilemma: whether to take fuller responsibility for what people say on their services, or to step back and assume a more quasi-governmental role.

The big picture: Facebook is trying to be more like a government committing to impartiality and protecting free speech and building mechanisms for arbitration. Twitter, pushed by Trump's inflammatory messages, is opting to more aggressively enforce conduct rules on its private property, like a mall owner enforcing rules inside the gates.

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 5,851,494 — Total deaths: 362,238 — Total recoveries — 2,445,181Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,729,185 — Total deaths: 101,706 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  4. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  5. Transportation: National mobility keeps rising as more states reopen economies.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Saying goodbye to U.S. megacities.