More than 5700 years ago, a girl spat a gum, which is now an archaeological site in Denmark. Today, researchers report in Nature Communications that they have received a full set of genome sequences from this gum, for the first time they have received a lot of information from old bones or anything other than teeth. Although no human remains were found in the Syltholm area, archaeologists found a chewing gum from the birch field. The DNA in the gum was so well protected that the researchers were able to offer a glimpse of the girl who chewed her and an image of her life.
The boy’s (artist’s depiction) was black-haired, blue-eyed, and dark-skinned, and was more closely related to hunters-gatherers from Western Europe than farmers who settled closer to the area. He left traces of his latest food in gum – nuts and duck were chewing. But his oral microbiome also revealed that life can be difficult – he had the Epstein-Barr virus and probably suffered from mononucleosis in his life. Last year, researchers got some genetic sequences from even older gums than Scandinavia. As guessed, such scrolls are now becoming a useful resource for researchers.