Latest Research on Oral Health
Ancient 'chewing gum' yields insights into people and bacteria of the past
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have succeeded in extracting a complete human genome from a thousands-of-years old "chewing gum." According to the researchers, it is a new untapped source of ancient DNA.
During excavations on Lolland, archaeologists have found a 5,700-year-old type of "chewing gum" made from birch pitch. In a new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen succeeded in extracting a complete ancient human genome from the pitch.
It is the first time that an entire ancient human genome has been extracted from anything other than human bones. The new research results have been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
'It is amazing to have gotten a complete ancient human genome from anything other than bone,'' says Associate Professor Hannes Schroeder from the Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, who led the research.
'What is more, we also retrieved DNA from oral microbes and several important human pathogens, which makes this a very valuable source of ancient DNA, especially for time periods where we have no human remains,' Hannes Schroeder adds.
Based on the ancient human genome, the researchers could tell that the birch pitch was chewed by a female. She was genetically more closely related to hunter-gatherers from the mainland Europe than to those who lived in central Scandinavia at the time. They also found that she probably had dark skin, dark hair and blue eyes.
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