Somewhere here on cake, I came across an image - seen below - of a book about the mosquito, and I thought it might be an interesting diversion, if a bit obscure.
Little did I realize, the book would cause me to rethink some basics of my understanding of the history of mankind, from prehistoric times, through the Roman empire, and the advent of Christianity in western Eururope after the fall of Rome. The author suggests that the moquito has participated in killing of half of all humans that have EVER lived on the planet.
I am struck by how little thought had been given by historians to the significance of disease over the course of history - it is a known fact that in warfare, more troops succumb to infection and disease than the total loss due to armaments. But if this was true in WW II, imagine its significance on the Roman legions or the earlier armies of the ancient world. Yet almost countless generals, emperors of Rome, and Popes in Rome fell to malaria. How did I not know this at all.
The author posits that the agricultural revolution, along with domestication of animals, was a strong contributor to the spread of the moquito, with its fellow travelers of M. vivax, faciparum and ovale - forms of malaria that spread north into Scotland, Sweden and Denmark, and ArchAngel in Russia, and all across Europe and Africa, as well as Asia, South America, and much of the US prior to the Civil War...
The author, Timothy C Winegard, a professor at Colorado Mesa University, writes an engaging story, that offers the reader much to think about regarding the mosquito, malaria and other mosquito borne diseases, and humankind.
I recommend the book highly for anyone with an interest in ancient history, medicine, and the effects of disease on human populations.