New Clues From an Old Skull
Scientists can use remains and artifacts from past outbreaks to learn about modern ones. This man was diagnosed with influenza and tuburculosis at the time of death in 1929, but today scientists are studying his skull for new information about what other microbes and pathogens he harbored. The hardened plaque on his teeth preserves DNA that can be used to characterize the diverse community of his oral microbiome and explore its potential impacts on his health. This skull is on display in the new exhibition, “Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World,” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History through 2021.
Credit information: James Di Loreto, Lucia RM Martino & Fred Cochard, Smithsonian