As is her habit from time to time, teh Eldest Gel approached me this evening with a piece of trivia she had picked up somewhere, namely, that there’s a new theory floating about that Asian gerbils were responsible for the bubonic plague that ravaged Medieval Europe, not rats.
This was intriguing enough to ol’ Robbo’s scattershot brain that I had to look it up. Turns out she’s right:
“What we are suggesting is that it was gerbils in Central Asia and the bacterium in gerbils that eventually came to Europe,” Stenseth says. The scientists used climate records to check their theory, and they found a tentative link. When the climate in Asia was good, gerbils are thought to have thrived; but when it went bad, the population crashed. And about 15 years after each boom and bust, a plague outbreak erupted in Europe. The theory is that fleas carrying plague jumped from dead gerbils to pack animals and human traders, who then brought it to European cities. The research team’s results appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Of course, rats are still disgusting creatures. (The jury is still out on Siberian hamsters.)
This reminds me of something: The Left attaches all sorts of moral opprobrium to the introduction of small-pox and other diseases by Europeans to the Americas, where said diseases devastated indigenous populations who had no immunity to them. The tone, if not the explicit argument, is that the Europeans did it on purpose as part of their eeeeevil genocidal strategy. Have you ever, ever, heard a single similar argument made with respect to the introduction of the plague to European populations from the East and the Middle East?
No, neither have I.
But then again, consistency is hardz.