A STONE AGE DANISH GIRL, LOLA, CHEWED GUM 5,700 YEARS AGO
Her name was Lola. Well, her name IS Lola. Who knows what her phonetic name really was? She paints a picture (well, we paint a picture of her now), that gives us a visceral look at humanity in Denmark more than 5 and a half millennia ago. And that’s no exaggeration. 5,700 years ago, Lola was alive and had dark hair, dark skin and blue eyes. But that was normal for any Danish girl at the time. But now we also know that a girl like Lola chewed gum all those years ago! In the damn Stone Age!
ARCHEOLOGISTS DIDN’T FIND HER BODY, THEY FOUND HER GENOME IN DATED CHEWING GUM (SORT OF)
Well, maybe not chewing gum like we know it today. Back then in the Stone Age, people chewed on birch pitch, which sort of worked the same way. Museum Lolland-Falster archeologists recently found a hunk of this birch pitch at the Syltholm site on Lolland. But what is Lolland? That’s the number 4 in size island in Denmark. So did researchers find Lola’s remains? Well, no. Not at all, in fact. But Lola did in fact chew this particular batch of birch pitch. The archeologists were able to find her complete genome as well as her oral microbiome.
WE KNOW STONE AGE LOLA WAS LACTOSE INTOLERANT AND SO MUCH MORE
So what does that mean, really? Well, it means we know what she looked like. But it also tells us that her last meal before she chewed gum was hazelnuts and duck (mallard, to be precise). We also know she couldn’t digest dairy. That’s right, Lola was lactose intolerant! This is the first time we have ever pulled a human genome from anything except human remains before. But as you can read, there is still so much for us to learn and know! But get this, humans have chewed birch pitch for as long as 760,000 years ago!
So stay tuned on this story. We are clearly going to learn more about Lola. And soon? Many more genomes will need naming. With pictures and crazy data!