Malaria affects close to 500 million people every year, but we’re not the only ones–different species of malaria parasite can infect birds, bats, and other mammals too. A Field Museum study published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution reveals a new take on the evolution of different malaria species and contributes to the ongoing search for the origins of malaria in humans. “We can’t begin to understand how malaria spread to humans until we understand its evolutionary history,” explained lead author Holly Lutz, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University and a longtime affiliate of The Field Museum. “In learning about its past, we may be better able to understand the effects it has on us.”
One of the many East African bats that Lutz studied.
Credit: © Holly Lutz