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Human DNA found in ancient chewing gum

By T.K. Randall
May 17, 2019 · Comment icon 1 comment

Humans have been chewing gum for over 10,000 years. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 David Haberthur
The ancient gum-chewing inhabitants of Sweden left behind Scandinavia's oldest known human DNA.
Made from a tar-like substance extracted from birch bark, this 10,000-year-old precursor to today's chewing gum was seemingly very popular among the Mesolithic inhabitants of Sweden.

A total of eight samples of this chewed-up substance were found back in the 1990s during an excavation of Huseby Klev - a Stone Age site on Sweden's west coast.
At the time, DNA analysis techniques were too primitive to extract anything useful from the gum, but now, more than 20 years on, scientists have been able to extract samples from three of the pieces.

The DNA is thought to have belonged to three individuals - two females and one male. The find is particularly impressive as it is the oldest human DNA ever found in Scandinavia.

"DNA from these ancient chewing gums have an enormous potential not only for tracing the origin and movement of peoples long time ago, but also for providing insights in their social relations, diseases and food," said study co-author and Museum of Cultural History (MCH) researcher Per Persson.

Source: Live Science | Comments (1)

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