Abstract

The Guanches, ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands, Spain, practiced mummification of their dead. A paleoparasitological and paleogenetic analysis was conducted on mummified bodies (n = 6) (AD 1200, Cal BP 750) belonging to the Guanche culture from Gran Canaria Island. Coprolite and sediment samples (n = 19) were removed from below the abdominal region or sacral foramina. The samples were rehydrated in 0.5% trisodium phosphate solution for 72 hr at 4 C, and the paleoparasitological investigation was conducted by spontaneous sedimentation method and microscopic examination. The results revealed the presence of well-preserved eggs of Ascaris sp., Trichuris trichiura, Enterobius vermicularis, and hookworms. Ancient DNA was extracted from sediment samples to elucidate the ancestry of the mummies and for molecular detection of Ascaris sp. infection. Results of paleogenetic analysis demonstrated Ascaris sp. infection using 2 molecular targets, cytb and nad1. The mtDNA haplotypes U6b, U6b1, and HV were identified, which confirmed records of Guanche ancestry. The excellent preservation of Guanche mummies facilitated the paleoparasitological and paleogenetic study, the results of which contribute to our knowledge of Guanche culture and their health status.

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