This disease ravished the Americas top to bottom, excepting perhaps the Pacific Northwest. Inn fact when i first got this blog started i did some calculations particularly in light of the obvious huge amazonian population and concluded that the whole population of the Americas could well have approached 100,000,000 and that it was far better to err on the upside.
Posted by Richard Thornton | Jan 17, 2018 | Biology, DNA, Health Issues, History, Mexico | 0 |
Chronology and scale of Mesoamerica’s population decline exactly matches the Lower Southeast.
The Washington Post published a fascinating article this week on genetic research being carried out in Mexico. One of the great mysteries of the European Contact Period has always been, “What wiped out most of the populations of advanced civilizations in Mesoamerica, the Amazon Basin and Southeastern United States during the 1500s?”
From 1545 to 1548, a mysterious disease killed about 80 percent of the population of Mexico. It was one of the worst epidemics in human history, felling an estimated 5 million to 15 million people, and was known by natives as cocoliztli — a word meaning pestilence.
For more than a hundred years, scientists have sought clues to what may have caused this disease of epic proportions. Some have suspected illnesses such as measles, smallpox or a type of hemorrhagic fever — potentially brought over to Mexico by the Spanish.
The fevers were contagious, burning, and continuous, all of them pestilential, in most part lethal. The tongue was dry and black. Enormous thirst. Urine of the colors sea-green, vegetal-green, and black, sometimes passing from the greenish color to the pale. Pulse was frequent, fast, small, and weak — sometimes even null. The eyes and the whole body were yellow. This stage was followed by delirium and seizures. Then, hard and painful nodules appeared behind one or both ears along with heartache, chest pain, abdominal pain, tremor, great anxiety, and dysentery [diarrhea]. The blood that flowed when cutting a vein had a green color or was very pale [and] dry . . .