5,700-year-old ‘chewing gum’ helps recreate image of user

5,700-year-old ‘chewing gum’  helps recreate image of user
Dec 18 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 12/18/2019 10:53:23 AM IST

 Researchers from University of Copenhagen in Denmark have succeeded in extracting a complete human genome from 5,700 year old type of "chewing gum", allowing them to recreate the image of its user and find clues to her dietary habits.

Based on ancient human genome, researchers could tell that the "chewing gum" made from birch pitch was chewed by a woman.

She was genetically more closely related to hunter gatherers from mainland Europe than to those who lived in central Scandinavia at that time, according to a study published in journal Nature Communications.

They also found that she probably had dark skin, dark hair and blue eyes.

"It's amazing to have retrieved a complete ancient human genome from anything other than bone," said lead researcher Hannes Schroeder, Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen.

"What's 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 where we have no human remains," Schroeder said.

The birch pitch was found during archaeological excavations at Syltholm on island of Lolland, Denmark.

The researchers also identified traces of plant and animal DNA in the pitch, specifically hazelnuts and duck, which may have been part of the individual's diet.

They also succeeded in extracting DNA from several oral microbiota from the pitch, including many commensally species and opportunistic pathogens.

"The preservation is incredibly good, and we managed to extract many different bacterial species that are characteristic of an oral microbiome. Our ancestors lived in a different environment and had a different lifestyle and diet. It's, therefore, interesting to find how this is reflected in their microbiome," said Schroeder.    (IANS)

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