Y. pestis revealed to be source of the Black Death

Anthropologists say they may have discovered the secret behind the Black Death plague that annihilated one-third of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Researchers told TopNews.com that they have suspected that an organism called Yersiniaa pestis caused the plague. Now, anthropologists have used DNA sequencing from bones and teeth from 76 skeletons found in “plague pits” in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France to find conclusive evidence that Yersiniaa pestis was the culprit.

Stephanie Haensch, a researcher with at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, told TopNews.com that Yersiniaa pestis has been suspected as the source of the Black Death for more than a century.

She said, however, that scientific data proving it has been debatable, adding that rival theories have emerged over the years, including anthrax and an Ebola-style virus.

“The history of this pandemic is much more complicated than we had previously thought,” Haensch told TopNews.com

Barbara Bramanti, another investigator for the study, agreed.

“Our findings indicate that the plague traveled to Europe over at least two channels, which then went their separate ways,” Bramanti said, TopNews.com reports.

The Black Death is estimated to have reduced the world's population from approximately 450 million people to 350 million in 1400. As much as 60 percent of Europe's population was killed by the disease. Europe's population did not recover for 150 years.

The study results were published the journal PLoS Pathogens.