CALAIS (AP) – Researchers using sophisticated imaging equipment have concluded that scurvy killed nearly half of the early colonists on St. Croix Island.

Dr. John Benson, director of medical imaging at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, said he and his colleagues analyzed remains from seven burial sites using what is known as multidetector computerized tomography.

The technology allowed researchers to visualize the skull from every angle, inside and out, Benson said.

“Scans of the skull and leg bones revealed a thick, hard palate in the mouth and an extra layer of bony tissue on the femur and tibia, which we believe resulted from the internal bleeding associated with scurvy,” he said.

The research was presented at last month’s annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

St. Croix Island, located in the St. Croix River that marks the U.S.-Canadian border, was the first U.S. settlement when French settlers led by Pierre Dugua and Samuel Champlain landed there in 1604.

But it was a short-lived settlement when nearly half the settlers died that first winter.

AP-ES-12-09-04 1023EST

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