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Scientists Discover DNA Of A Neolithic Woman From Her 5,700-Year-Old 'Chewing Gum'

Scientists Discover DNA Of A Neolithic Woman From Her 5,700-Year-Old 'Chewing Gum'

The researchers reconstructed an image of the 5,700-year-old woman from the extracted DNA and said she had dark skin, brown hair, and blue eyes, and most likely came from Syltholm on Lolland, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea.

In a major breakthrough, scientists have reconstructed the genome of an ancient neolithic woman with the help of chewing gum, reported CBS News. The entire genome has been obtained and analyzed, along with that, the researchers from the University of Copenhagen said that it is the first time an entire ancient human genome has been reconstructed from anything other than a human bone. 



 

 

Going by the study published in the journal Nature Communications, the DNA of a young woman was gathered from teeth marks she left in ancient chewing gum. The prehistoric gum was actually a form of chewable tar from a birch tree and has been often used as an all-purpose glue. Tooth imprints were also found at archeological sites in the past and have provided critical information that was extremely important for the study. 



 

 

No known human remains of the woman exist and that birch pitch has been dated all the way back to the Middle Pleistocene, which roughly happened 126,000 years ago.

After the sample was genetically analyzed, it gave a lot of information about what this woman ate, where she was from and what kind of germs she carried in her mouth. 

 



 

 

From this data, the researchers have reconstructed an image of the woman from the extracted DNA and they have come to the conclusion that the woman had dark skin, brown hair, and blue eyes, and most likely came from Syltholm on Lolland, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea. The woman has been nicknamed 'Lola' by the scientists.  



 

 

Theis Jensen, one of the researchers of the study, said in a press release, "Syltholm is completely unique. Almost everything is sealed in mud, which means that the preservation of organic remains is absolutely phenomenal."

The woman was most likely related to hunter-gatherers from continental Europe, which means they may have come from what we now know as Germany. 



 

 

Coming back to the birch chewing gum, people think it has many theories. Some researchers believe it was chewed to make it malleable enough to be used to build tools, others believe it was used to relieve toothaches or other ailments, it might also have been used to suppress hunger or for fun as regular chewing gum.



 

 

Additionally, the non-human DNA that was found in the birch pitch also included pathogens that are responsible for glandular fever and pneumonia, as well as many other natural viruses and bacteria.

Other DNA forms revealed she had likely just finished a meal of hazelnuts and mallard duck, but she was also lactose-intolerant. Lead researcher Dr. Hannes Schroeder said, "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, and it is, therefore, interesting to find out how this is reflected in their microbiome. It can help us understand how pathogens have evolved and spread over time, and what makes them particularly virulent in a given environment," he continued.

"At the same time, it may help predict how a pathogen will behave in the future, and how it might be contained or eradicated."

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