Human Intestinal Parasites From the Wushantou Site in Neolithic Period Taiwan (800–1 BC)

02 Aug 2017

Here, we investigate the presence of parasitic infections in Neolithic peoples from Taiwan to provide insight into the health and cultural development of these populations. Analysis was conducted on 27 soil samples collected from the pelvic region of human skeletal remains, along with control samples taken from the skulls and feet excavated from the Wushantou site in southwest Taiwan. The samples were disaggregated, passed through micro-sieves, and visualized using light microscopy. Analysis revealed the presence of roundworm eggs (Ascaris lumbricoides) within the remains of one individual. The control samples were negative for parasites, suggesting a true infection in this individual and not later environmental contamination of the soil. This is the first discovery of ancient parasite eggs in prehistoric Taiwan. The low apparent prevalence of parasites in this population is discussed in the context of the environment during this time and the consequences of regional climate on preservation of parasite eggs.