May 15 (UPI) – Researchers have restored human DNA from 10,000 year old chewing gum found in Sweden. The DNA is the oldest to be sequenced from the region.
Researchers found the mastered clumps of birch bark, a sap-like tar, among the remains of an early Mesolithic hunter fisherman named Huseby Klev, located on Sweden's west coast.
During the Stone Age, people used bark-generated chewing gum as a glue to make tools. The rubber bands were originally found in the 1990s, but researchers had not yet developed the technology needed to process human DNA.
Researchers in Sweden and Norway were able to successfully extract DNA from the mastered gum and sequencing the genome of three human individuals.
DNA analysis showed that the individuals were closely related to other groups of hunter-gatherers in Scandinavia, as well as the mesolithic populations in Europe. But the tools available at Huseby Klev are part of technical kinship that archaeologists have traced to the Eastern European, modern Russia.
The new genetic data, which is described this week in the Communications Biology magazine, suggests that Scandinavia hosts a unique convergence of different genetic and technical lines.
"Demographic analysis suggests that the genetic composition of Huseby Klev individuals shows more similarity to Western hunter-gatherers than Eastern hunter-gatherers," says Emrah Kirdök, researcher at Stockholm University. release.
Researchers hope that new discoveries of old DNA will provide additional insights on the origin of the earliest Scandinavian settlers, migration patterns and behaviors.
"DNA from these old chewing gums has tremendous potential, not only for tracing the origin and movement of people long ago, but also for providing insights into their social relations, diseases and food," says Per Persson, researcher at Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.