Prehistoric ‘chewing gum’ contains Neolithic girl’s DNA, allowing scientists to reconstruct her face

| | December 20, 2019
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Image: Tom Björklund
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Scientists in Denmark have squeaked out an entire human genome from a prehistoric piece of “chewing gum.” Made from birch tar, the 5,700-year-old gum also contained evidence of diet and disease and is providing a remarkable snapshot of life during the early Neolithic.

Lola was a Neolithic female who lived in Denmark some 5,700 years ago when the region was slowly transitioning from hunter-gathering to agriculture. She had blue eyes, dark hair, and dark skin and was closely related to foragers and farmers who came from continental Europe. Lola’s diet included duck and hazelnuts, and she may have suffered from gum disease and mononucleosis.

We know this about Lola despite the fact that her bodily remains are completely unknown to archaeologists, and, as this time period dates to prehistory, no written records exist about her life and the community she lived in.

Related article:  DNA from 4 ancient children shed light on diversity of humankind’s African origins

It’s pretty amazing what these scientists were able to get out of a single piece of ancient chewing gum. And indeed, the new research strongly suggests that archaeologists should be on the lookout for similar artifacts. Clues to our ancient past and our biology can be found in the most unexpected places.

Read full, original post: Scientists Reconstruct ‘Lola’ After Finding Her DNA in 5,700-Year-Old ‘Chewing Gum’

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