It seems like the more that society learns about Christopher Columbus, the more his reputation as a hero continues to fall into decline. Once the proud owner of his own day, recently Columbus has become a much more questionable figure.

Columbus’ shady side

It’s no longer any secret that Columbus’ crews did not exactly have the cordial relationship with Native Americans that your first-grade history book may have depicted.

Not only did Columbus’ crews shamelessly massacre or enslave countless Native Americans, but they also introduced them to old world diseases that would mean the death of countless more. Lately, however, scientists have been puzzling over whether the Native Americans snuck in a blow of their own.

Worldly souvenir?

Researchers have now launched into a ridiculously serious debate over whether Columbus’ crews may have arrived back in Europe with more than just news of a new world. It all began when someone with way too much time on their hands noticed that before Columbus’ return, there were no known cases of Syphilis on record in Europe.

Could it be that Columbus’ men may have brought one of the world’s most dreaded STDs back from America? According to some scientists, like Dr. Bruce Rothschild, a professor of medicine at the University of Kansas, absolutely. “Despite the many efforts to suggest otherwise, there is no Old World evidence of syphilis prior to 1492,” Rothschild says.

The debate rages on

According to other scientists, absolutely not. One study, penned by a bunch of guys whose brilliant careers have been made in the study of STD origins, claims the theory has no backing. “We believe that the Columbian theory of syphilis origin is not sustainable,” they say.

At the moment, the competing theories of who exactly is to blame remain locked in debate. Yet a third group maintains that syphilis likely existed in both the old and new worlds. Perhaps the larger mystery is who has the time to sit around debating this stuff in the first place?