According to Gizmodo.com, New research published today in Cell describes a newly identified strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague.
The DNA of the new strain was extracted from a woman who lived in a Neolithic farming community about 4,900 years ago in what is now Sweden. The bacterium is unique in that it’s the oldest genome of Y. pestis ever discovered and, at a genetic level, it’s the earliest plague strain ever discovered.
Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for an unspeakable amount of human suffering, causing the Plague of Justinian during the sixth century AD, killing between 30 million and 50 million people—virtually half the human population at the time.
The plague would return 800 years later, manifesting as the Black Death—a menace that killed 50 million Europeans from 1347 to 1351.