10,000-Year Old Chewing Gum Might Contain Information About Ancient Scandinavians

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It appears that chewing gum was a thing even thousands of years ago, and it might represent a valuable source of information for scientists. Researchers have discovered 10,000-year-old chewing gum and they will analyze the human DNA extracted from it. Their hope is that they would be able to learn more about the humans who lived in early Scandinavia.

Until now scientists weren’t able to learn much about early settlement patterns in Scandinavia. There are few bones in the area and they don’t contain too much DNA.

Researchers also found a substance derived from birch bark which was used as some sort of chewing gum. Per Persson and Mikael Maininen proposed researching the “gum” in order to find DNA. “We were hesitant but really impressed that archaeologists took care during the excavations and preserved such fragile material,” recalls Natalija Kashuba from Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History.

“It took some work before the results overwhelmed us, as we understood that we stumbled into this almost ‘forensic research’, sequencing DNA from these mastic lumps, which were spat out at the site some 10,000 years ago!” added Kashuba.

The results were published in the Communications Biology journal. Based on the DNA they found, researchers came to the conclusion that there three persons. Two women and a man. This DNA is the oldest human DNA discovered in that area.

“Demography analysis suggests that the genetic composition of Huseby-Klev individuals show more similarity to western hunter-gatherer populations than eastern hunter-gatherers,” says co-author Emrah Kirdök from Stockholm University.

These results are very important for researchers and they also prove to be a source material for upcoming studies.

“DNA from these ancient chewing gums have 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,” he says.


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