Tropical disease in medieval Europe revises the history of a pathogen related to syphilis

Plague was commonplace in medieval times, so finding its victims in a 15th century Lithuanian graveyard was no surprise. However, discovering one woman with a second disease, yaws — a close relative of modern syphilis found today only in tropical settings — was something researchers did not expect. The current study’s findings are changing perspectives on the evolutionary history of a disease family thought to be out of reach for the study of ancient DNA.