The skull bones of a man buried in Latvia around 5,000 years ago. Scientists have determined he had an early version of the plague. A hunter-gatherer who lived 5,000 years ago may have died from an ancient strain of the gruesome bubonic plague that killed millions in Europe, Asia and Africa thousands of years later, say scientists who extracted DNA from the man’s teeth and bones. The researchers believe that man, known as "RV 2039," harbored the oldest known strain of Yersinia pestis , the bacteria that causes the plague. They say understanding the pathogen’s evolution could shed light on our understanding of human civilization’s development in parts of the world devastated during the 14th century pandemic known as the Black Death. "Different pathogens and the human genome have always evolved together," said Ben Krause-Kyora, head of the Ancient DNA Laboratory at German’s University of Kiel and co-author of a new study detailing the discovery. "We know Y. pestis most likely killed half of the European population in a short time frame, so it should have a big impact on the human genome." Almost 700 years after the Black Death devastated Eurasia and North Africa, it lives on as a chilling worst-case scenario of pandemic destruction, with its origins continuing to enthrall scientists . The bubonic plague caused a host of symptoms, including fever, chills, headaches, skin sores that form black scabs, and painful swollen and pus-filled lymph nodes known as "buboes" in the armpit or groin. Today, antibiotics […]