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New dog parasite (Toxocara canis) discoveries at Melanesian and Polynesian sites in tropical Remote Oceania

by Mark Horrocks last modified 2024-03-23 12:08 PM

Horrocks M, Bedford S, Flexner J, Valentin F, Cochrane E, Allen MS, Burley D, Kirch PV, Presswell B. Pacific Science.


Little is known of helminth parasites of tropical Remote Oceania, in either archaeological or modern contexts. This study presents a parasitological analysis of soil samples from Lapita and Polynesian contexts in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Marquesas Islands, and the Gambier Islands.

Microscopic eggs of the dog (Canis familiaris) nematode Toxocara canis, which could have adversely affected local people and their dogs, were found at all sites. We comment on the variability in size and appearance of T. canis eggs found in archaeological contexts and compare these differences to modern reference eggs. The study represents the first confirmed record of pre-European helminth parasites in tropical Remote Oceania, and the first confirmed physical evidence of dog in Vanuatu.


Domestic dogs, parasite, helminth, Ascarididae, Lapita.

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