Lice helped scientists extract DNA of ancient Indians

Human #DNA Extracted From Nits on Ancient Mummies Sheds Light on South American Ancestry
via @SciTechDaily1

— SMARTMD (@SMART_MD) December 29, 2021

Scientists note that samples of teeth or the inside of the skull are usually used to study the DNA of human remains. But this method is often inappropriate due to ethical aspects. In addition, such manipulations have a detrimental effect on the remains themselves, destroying their integrity and complicating further research. But now experts have come up with a new, simple and, as it turned out, very effective way to extract DNA from mummies.

Experts have collected the glue of lice preserved on the hair of mummies. As you know, these parasites have accompanied humans for many millennia and their traces can be found on a wide variety of human remains of antiquity.

As an example, scientists studied the glue from the hair of several mummified remains of people aged 1500-2000 years, found in the Andes region in the province of San Juan in Argentina. The team also studied ancient nits on human hair that were used in ancient textiles from Chile, and nits from a mummy found in Ecuador.

Studies have shown that the glue of lice retains the same concentration of DNA as teeth – this is twice as much as in bone remains, and four times more than in blood found in much later samples of lice.

The scientists noted that these results turned out to be a big and pleasant surprise for them and now open wide frontiers for the scientific world to study ancient people and their migration.

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Ekaterina Gura

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