Scientists Find 5,700-year-old Chewing Gum With Dna Residue: It Belongs To A Little Girl.

Historical discoveries are something truly fascinating, which allow us to reconstruct the details of a past that we did not know, but which, thanks to science, acquires a clearer face. The museums are full of archaeological pieces that tell the story of a bygone era, showing what it was like when it was not possible to take pictures.

But the discovery made in Denmark is incredible: a simple piece of chewing gum made it possible to describe precise details about the person who consumed it.

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image credit: Pixabay

A group of scientists from Copenhagen has discovered an ancient piece of birch tar dating back 5700 years. In prehistoric times, birch pitch was made by heating the bark of trees and was used to glue pious instruments. It has been argued that it was also used for oral consumption to relieve dental pain, as a remedy for hunger, or as a simple chew.

When the gum was analyzed, scientists found it contained enough human DNA to recreate the genetic history of the person who chewed it. This is the first time that science has been able to reconstruct a complete human genome of such antiquity from material remains, that is to say from outside the body.

The most surprising aspect of the discovery is the description of the identity of the subject in question through its genome: it would be a little girl, judging by the imprints of the gum, to which the scientists have given the name “Lola” because she was found on the island of Lolland. The girl lived around 3700 BC, and her DNA would also indicate her colors and features: Lola had dark skin and hair, and blue eyes, a combination that was far from uncommon. at that time.

Reproduction by Lola by Tom Björklund

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image credit: Tom Björklund / Facebook

But that’s not all: the researchers were also able to identify the meal she had taken before chewing the gum, which consisted of hazelnuts and duck. Also, she was lactose intolerant and probably suffered from gingivitis: there were a lot of germs in her mouth.

A tiny piece of dark matter has therefore provided incredible information about a human being who lived thousands of years ago. It has not been possible to establish how long Lola lived, but the data that researchers were able to provide about her with just a piece of chewing gum is certainly an incredible discovery.

Source used:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-13549-9

 National Geographic

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