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Secrets in the Bones - Promo0:30

The quest to solve a great mystery in history: Identify the Black Death killer and unlock secrets that could save millions of lives.

Secrets in the Bones - Promo 0:30

McMaster University's Hendrik Poinar is the focus of the documentary 'Secrets in the Bones: The hunt for the Black Death Killer.' The film airs Thursday night at 8 p.m. on The Nature of Things.

Secrets in the Bones follows Poinar’s quest to do something no other scientist in history has ever done - crack the code of an ancient killer and change the way we fight killer diseases in the 21st century.

Poinar is an evolutionary biologist - which means he studies the nature of how we humans got here and where we’re going.

In Secrets in the Bones Poinar leads us on a journey to Italy, Germany, Britain and across the Unites States. His mission:  solve one of the greatest mysteries of science, a mystery that has eluded researchers for more than six centuries: unlock the secrets of the fourteenth century killer disease that caused the Black Death and wiped out more than 50 million people.

The disease remains a threat today in parts of Africa and Asia. Just last month, the Bubonic Plague killed 20 people in Madagascar.

Read more about Poinar's hunt for the cause of the Bubonic Plague at The Nature of Things.

The Bubonic Plague isn't the only deadly disease that has become the focus of Poinar's work. Poinar is director of the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University. Researchers there have mapped the genetic blueprint of the cholera bacteria responsible for a 19th-century pandemic of the disease, cracking open a veritable medical time capsule to do so.

The Nature of Things is in its 53rd season and is hosted by the world-renowned geneticist and environmentalist, David Suzuki. The documentary 'Secrets in the Bones: The hunt for the Black Death Killer' airs Thursday night at 8 p.m. EST.