Neanderthals produced tar through the dry distillation of birch bark as early as 200,000 years ago. This was the first time that’s ever been done using any fossilized material other than human bones. A study from 2019 showed that birch tar production can be a very simple process - merely involving the burning of birch bark near smooth vertical surfaces in open air conditions. A photo of the birch pitch used as chewing gum. The DNA in the sample – which the researchers say is comparable in quality to well-preserved teeth and skull bones – suggest the chewer was female, most likely with dark skin, dark brown hair, and blue eyes. We can learn so much from a whole genome: population history, physical traits, and phenotypic traits,” Hannes Schroeder, the geneticist who led the research, told Business Insider. The findings are reported in Nature Communications. According to the study’s authors, that shows that Lola had recently munched on these foods. The chewed bark contained ancient DNA from a hunter-gatherer woman. "It is the biggest Stone Age site in Denmark, and the archaeological finds suggest that the people who occupied the site were heavily exploiting wild resources well into the Neolithic, which is the period when farming and domesticated animals were first introduced into southern Scandinavia.". They determined that her genes were more closely related to hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than groups that lived in Scandinavia at the time. The results also suggest her ancestry stemmed from mainland Europe rather than hunter-gatherer populations who lived in central Scandinavia, and that she existed during a time of transition, when a period known as the Late Mesolithic Ertebølle culture (7300–5900 BCE) gave way to early Neolithic Funnel Beaker culture (5900–5300 BCE). The gum wad also included genetic traces of the Epstein-Barr virus, which is known to cause mononucleosis, or mono. Bones from cattle, deer, and otters were deposited near Syltholm, alongside remnants of fish traps. Schroeder and his team were also able to analyse the genes of 40 mouth microbes and pathogens that were preserved in the pitch. That change brought with it the move to early farming societies, but the Syltholm individual's DNA does not carry any Neolithic farmer ancestry, suggesting not only that she fell on the hunter-gatherer side of the equation, but also that the development of agriculture in this region may have been slower than researchers thought. Theis Jensen. The chewed bark contained ancient DNA from a hunter-gatherer woman. "It is amazing to have gotten a complete ancient human genome from anything other than bone,'' says lead researcher and evolutionary genomicist Hannes Schroeder from the University of Copenhagen. The tar may also have had antiseptic or antibacterial properties, he said. “That’s quite cool. "The DNA is so exceptionally well preserved that we were able to recover a complete ancient human genome from the sample… which is particularly significant since, so far, no human remains have been recovered from the site," the research team explains in a new paper. Ancient hunters used the pitch, a form of tar, as an adhesive to glue arrowheads onto arrows and affix stone blades onto wooden handles. In terms of this particular ancient chewing gum, much light has been shed. We took a 4-hour flight on the new Delta Airbus jet that Boeing tried to keep out of the US. A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications said scientists were able to use that wad of “chewing gum” to extract an unprecedented amount of DNA and sequence an entire ancient human genome. That deep level of detail, preserved in something chewed only fleetingly almost 6,000 years ago, hints at the incredible scientific potential such ancient gum stands to offer – if and when more ancient samples are discovered, stuck under the foot of history. "It can help us understand how pathogens have evolved and spread over time, and what makes them particularly virulent in a given environment," says Schroeder. Here's what it was like. Archaeologists found a 5,700-year-old wad of “chewing gum” – a piece of birch-tree pitch – in Lolland, Denmark. The Best Snapchat Games To Play Right Now, Disable UPnP On Your Wireless Router Already, This Android Wallpaper Can Brick Your Phone, Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories, study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, Give us your thoughts on these small business practices to win a $250 Westfield gift card, What it takes to stage a $14 million NYC apartment, Doing these 24 uncomfortable things will pay off forever, Yes, Apple just killed iTunes — here's what that means for your library of music, movies, and TV shows. Researchers were also able to extract genetic information from ancient germs present in the gum. A hardworking piece of gum. Birch pitch is made by heating birch bark. (Theis Jensen) Regardless of the reason, when scientists discover well-preserved specimens of this ancient substance chewed by humans long ago, traces of saliva can sometimes still be found contained within the gum, enabling us to reconstruct genetic information. Amazingly, this sticky blob was enough to not only tell us that the woman once walked the Earth, but also hint at numerous clues about her identity. © ScienceAlert Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. White Twitch Talk Show Host Finally Drops 'Rajj Patel' Moniker, Everything We Know About The PlayStation 5. The birch pitch 'chewing gum'. Birch tar was used widely as an adhesive as early as the Middle Paleolithic to early Mesolithic era. No known physical remains of the woman in question exist. A rare find from the Dutch North Sea shows that Neanderthals used birch bark tar as a backing on small 'domestic' stone tools. The discovery could, however, help scientists better understand how germs change over thousands of years and how they could further evolve in the future. “People have also suggested other uses, like alleviating toothaches or suppressing hunger,” Schroeder added. In the case of the sample from Denmark – recovered from the Syltholm archaeological site on the Danish island of Lolland – it enabled the ancient chewer's entire genome to be reconstructed; a feat that the researchers say has never been done before in the absence of skeletal remains. In addition to the human DNA, the researchers also found evidence of hazelnut and duck DNA – traces thought to have been a recent meal consumed by the individual, prior to chewing the gum – and signs of several kinds of oral bacteria, including microbes associated with gum disease and Epstein-Barr virus, among others.