If this year's science news is any indication of next year's, then bring on 2019.
The news in 2018 wasn’t always great. But science did make leaps and bounds in the fields of archaeology, biology, and more. Indeed, science news this year has been both eclectic and astounding.
2018 saw the beginnings of mind-reading, the first baby born to be born from a uterine transplant of a deceased woman, and so much more. The headlines for this year’s science news may have been some of the most incredible yet — and we can’t wait to see what 2019 has to offer.
But in the meantime, take a look back at the best discoveries of the year.
Scientists Finally Confirmed What Killed The Aztecs
When the Aztec nation crumbled in 1545, people began coming down with high fevers and headaches, then began bleeding from the eyes, mouth, and nose before finally dying. Researchers have long puzzled what exactly happened and why.
Now, almost 500 years later, there may be an answer.
The locals described the disease as “cocoliztli,” which means pestilence in the Aztec Nahuatl language. Using DNA evidence from the teeth of long-dead victims, scientists were able to instead conclude that the cause of the pestilence was likely a typhoid-like “enteric fever” caused by Salmonella enterica, specifically a subspecies known as Paratyphi C, similar to Salmonella.
Researchers based this finding on the analysis of DNA from 29 skeletons found in a cocoliztli cemetery. However, the team stated that there could have been other pathogens present that were either undetectable or unknown.
In addition to the cause of the pestilence, the study also claims to have found its origins: European colonizers. The most likely scenario is that animals carrying the Paratyphi C. pathogen were brought to Mexico by settlers, whose immune systems were already equipped to handle the germ. The Aztecs, however, who had never been exposed to such a disease, were not able to handle the deadly consequences.