Near the end of the Middle Ages, at the beginning of the early Renaissance, an event occurred as significant as any geological boundary that signifies a great extinction event. The years between 1347 and 1353, a period known as the “Black Death” killed approximately half the population of Europe and could roughly be compared to the asteroid impact 66 million years ago known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary. While the rogue asteroid that impacted near the Yucatan Peninsula hurried the dominance of mammals while eliminating dinosaurs, the Black Death nearly wiped out human civilization. The plague came in three forms, Bubonic, Pneumonic, and Septicemic, but it was caused by a simple bacterium, known to the modern world as Yersinia Pestis.
Interestingly, this bacterium still exists and infects a dozen or so people yearly even in the U.S. The infections occur in such places a…
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