Gum Genealogy

What can chewing gum reveal about YOU?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Yuck, nothing worse than finding old gum on your shoe! Unless you’re an archaeologist…

Hannes Schroeder at the University of Copenhagen thinks GUM is as good as gold! His team discovered chewed up tree pitch nearly six thousand years old. This ancient gum came from the body of a Neolithic Scandinavian woman, nicknamed “Lola.” Her DNA, preserved in the gum, is a priceless window into the past. 

Clues in the DNA allowed the scientists to figure out what Lola looked like AND her last meal. Duck and hazelnuts – yum! Like many Ancient Scandinavians, Lola had dark skin, dark hair, and blue eyes. Not only that –  she was lactose intolerant. 

Since then, Europeans have developed fair skin and a dairy-eating diet. That’s actually pretty fast! Lola’s DNA could help us better understand human evolution. 

Six thousand year old gum – that’s a lot to chew on!  But for the short term, put your Double Mint into the trash. And thank you.