Chewing gum and the genetics of an ancient human

I was particularly interested in this, further confirmation that Europeans until recently were dark-skinned, and in the suggested link between fair skin and diet, as well as weak sunlight

Earth-logs

The sequencing of DNA has advanced to such a degree of precision and accuracy that minute traces of tissue, hair, saliva, sweat, semen and other bodily solids and fluids found at crime scenes are able to point to whomever was present. That is, provided that those persons’ DNA is known either from samples taken from suspects or resides in police records. In the case of individuals unknown to the authorities, archived DNA sequences from members of almost all ethnic groups can be used to ‘profile’ those present at a crime. Likely skin and hair pigmentation, and even eye colour, emerge from segments that contain the genes responsible.

One of the oddest demonstrations of the efficacy of DNA sequencing from minute samples used a wad of chewed birch resin. Such gums are still chewed widely for a number of reasons: to stave off thirst or hunger; to benefit from antiseptic compounds…

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About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on December 21, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Michael Fugate

    Paul a couple of papers
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4067096/
    https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/pp/c8pp00320c#!divAbstract

    Given Behe, does this mean that lighter skinned humans are defective darker skinned humans?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, since according to Behe all changes are defects in something or other. But I’m not sure where these papers leave the rest of us, since they seem to come to opposite conclusions

      Like

      • I don’t know why journals and editors don’t require graphs – it would make the data much easier to visualize.

        Like

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