Joining as Guest Editor for Special Issue on Paleoparasitology
Paleoparasitology emerged from the field of paleopathology to focus on parasites associated with human and animal remains, and in sediments from both archaeological and paleontological contexts. The goal of paleoparasitology is to improve our understanding of the history of parasites and parasite population diversity over time, as well as the natural and anthropogenic conditions that contribute to parasite emergence and maintenance in human groups. Hosts and parasites biology is intimately linked by coevolutionary forces persisting through time and space. Engaged in a constant race to gain advantage over the other, evidence of host-parasite coevolution can provide us with a glimpse on human dispersal, peopling of the continents, and human adaptation to various paleoenvironments. Indirectly, host-parasite relationships gleaned from the archaeological record also provide information on climate conditions, paleodiet, and cultural/mortuary practices. Many of the parasitic diseases that plagued ancient human populations continue to burden contemporary societies across the globe and are far from being eradicated. Having contributed to shape the dynamics of modern human populations, the study of the extinct populations coupled with the one of extant populations will allow reconstructing the temporal distribution patterns of both the parasites and their hosts.