Table of Contents
Advances in Biology
Volume 2014, Article ID 181353, 29 pages
Review Article

Evolutionary History of Terrestrial Pathogens and Endoparasites as Revealed in Fossils and Subfossils

Department of Integrated Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

Received 9 February 2014; Revised 29 April 2014; Accepted 2 May 2014; Published 12 June 2014

Academic Editor: Renfu Shao

Copyright © 2014 George Poinar Jr. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present work uses fossils and subfossils to decipher the origin and evolution of terrestrial pathogens and endoparasites. Fossils, as interpreted by morphology or specific features of their hosts, furnish minimum dates for the origin of infectious agents, coevolution with hosts, and geographical locations. Subfossils, those that can be C14 dated (roughly under 50,000 years) and are identified by morphology as well as molecular and immunological techniques, provide time periods when humans became infected with various diseases. The pathogen groups surveyed include viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and select multicellular endoparasites including nematodes, trematodes, cestodes, and insect parasitoids in the terrestrial environment.