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5,700-Year-Old Chewing Gum Reveals Incredible Information About The Person Who Spat It Out

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 09 Oct 2021 13:41
5,700-Year-Old Chewing Gum Reveals Incredible Information About The Person Who Spat It Out@theqielves/Instagram

Incredible information has been discovered about what a person who spat out a piece of chewing gum 5,700 years ago was like.

In 2019, a discarded piece of Stone Age chewing gum was analysed by a group of scientists at the University of Copenhagen, who were subsequently able to reconstruct a complete human genome.

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After being able to extract DNA from the gum, they discovered what the person who had been chewing it looked like and even what she had recently eaten.

University of Copenhagen - The main building of Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark, Europe (Alamy)Alamy

According to a reconstruction, scientists found out that the gum had been chewed by a girl who lived around 3,700 B.C. on an island in the Baltic Sea, National Geographic reports.

The human genome formed as a result of the gum also found that the girl, who was named by researchers as Lola, may have suffered from gum disease and had recently eaten duck and hazelnuts.

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The study, published by Nature Communications, also noted that she may possibly have been lactose intolerant, which would link to the proposition that that, over time, European populations adapted to be able to digest lactose.

Her appearance was identified as likely featuring dark skin and hair and blue eyes.

Lola’s chewing birch was excavated on the Danish island of Lolland, at the Syltholm site.

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The gum was a small wad of tree pitch, which is made by heating birch bark, and captured enough of Lola’s DNA for the scientists to create the genome – marking the first-ever time that a complete genome has been able to be fully reconstructed from ‘non-human material’ rather than any physical remains.

Tree pitch (Alamy)Alamy

Co-author of the study and associate professor of evolutionary genomics at the University of Copenhagen’s Globe Institute, Hannes Schroeder, noted how ‘remarkable’ the finding was.

Schroeder stated:

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This is the first time we have the complete ancient human genome from anything other than [human] bone, and that in itself is quite remarkable.

What’s so exciting about this material is that you can also get microbial DNA.

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Topics: Science, DNA, Now

Credits

National Geographic and 1 other
  1. National Geographic

    HISTORY & CULTURENEWS DNA from Stone Age ‘chewing gum’ tells an incredible story

  2. Nature Communications

    A 5700 year-old human genome and oral microbiome from chewed birch pitch