Showing posts with label vikings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vikings. Show all posts

Mice in Madeira

I've been everywhere man - I mean mouse! João Gonçalves Zarco, the Portuguese explorer, thought he had discovered a pristine island untouched by man. However, Madeira had been reached earlier by other people. Mouse move with man and their genetic fingerprint showed that Vikings had got there first.
Madeira mice
Mice began "travelling" with humans when people started storing grain. There is nothing like a free feed to hitch a ride. As grain was moved aboard ship, mice got on too. When a ship reached its destination the mice alighted and started a new colony of their own.

The mice who populated Madeira do not have DNA traces of Portuguese mice. They are related to north eastern European mice. Apparently, viking did not construct any lasting structure on the island. This is also the case in North America where very little evidence has been found of Viking exploration.

Carbon dating of mice skeletons on Madeira show the earliest to be 1,000 years old. This was the high point of Viking wanderings across the globe. Like humans, mice do damage. Their presence is responsible for the extinction of native marine birds - they ate them!
 Genetics by Ty Buchanan 
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Ancient Potions Work!

If your current collection of medications to fight disease no longer works, look to the past. That is what scientists are doing. They are reading through books hundreds of years old on "home" remedies.
Ancient potions book manuscript
A medieval book mentions a substance that has shown promise in destroying methicillin resistant "staphylococcus aureus" (MRSA), a damaging infection common in hospitals. The potion was used a thousand years ago in Viking times.

Notably, the "cure" was used to treat a simple stye, a common eye complaint in that era. The concoction was found in a book called Bald's Leechbook. Though the title is rather off putting there is a lot of truth in it.

Work is gathering apace with the formation of the AncientBiotics Project. This was the first attempt at testing an ancient remedy. The future looks promising based on this positive finding.

Apparently, medieval medicine was not all quackery. Though misguided by blood letting many of the potions were functioning treatments.
Chemistry by Ty Buchanan
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