The intestinal parasite of Ricardo III

The intestinal parasite of Ricardo III

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Leicester have found evidence that Ricardo III suffered the infection of the intestinal parasite Ascaris, according to the publication The Lancet.

The body of Richard III, which ruled England from 1483 to 1485 was found in 2012 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester, scientists have carried out a series of analyzes of the remains, in order to obtain more data on the controversial monarch.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Piers Mitchell of the Department of Archeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge used a powerful microscope to examine soil samples taken from the pelvis and skull, as well as the soil around the grave. The results demonstrated the existence of multitudes of intestinal parasite eggs in the soil surrounding the pelvis, where the intestines were located.

But nevertheless, no egg samples were found in samples close to the skull, and very few in the surrounding tomb. These data suggest that these eggs come from an infection with an intestinal parasite. Experts rule out that the earth of the tomb has been contaminated with these eggs, so they think that the monarch suffered the disease while alive.

The Ascaris it is a nematode that infects humans when they eat contaminated food, water, or even soil. Once ingested, the eggs hatch and give rise to a larva that travels through the body to the lungs, where it reaches its mature stage. Sometimes they move to the throat, in which case they are returned to the intestines through the act of swallowing, where they can also reach the adult phase and measure more than 25 centimeters. This infection is typical in a quarter of the world, but extraordinary in Britain today.

According to Mitche, “our results show that Ricardo was infected by this parasite in the intestinal area, although other species of parasite have not been studied. We consider that the nobles of this time could have consumed beef, pork or fish on a regular basis, but without evidence of eggs, which indicates that normally the cooking process was meticulous to avoid the development of this infectious phenomenon.”, Explains the expert.

Dr. Jo Appleby, Professor of Human Bioarcheology at the University of Leicester stated that despite the monarch's family, it seems that your lifestyle did not protect you from this infection, a situation that could be common at the time.

The University of Leicester, in collaboration with the Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society is leading the excavation of the monarch. The founder of the search project is Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.

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