Anthropologists reconstruct mitogenomes from prehistoric dental calculus
March 29, 2016
University of Oklahoma
In this article they dive into something that I have heard about and seen used in tv shows but had not read anything about it being used in modern excavations and research. The topic I am talking about is the use of dental calculus instead of human skeletons for the use of DNA research. Dental calculus is the “calcified form of dental plaque that acquires human DNA and proteins” as stated in the article. The DNA in this form can last thousands of years which allowed anthropologists from across the country to learn six individuals found at the 700 year old Oneota cemetery in Norris Farms. What peaked my interest is they were finding information about the human, pathogen, and dietary DNA from the Oneota people that we have discussed in lecture. The advantage of taking dental calculus instead of bone samples is a minuscule sample from the dental calculus is needed compared to a relatively large sample of bone. By taking the dental calculus, anthropologists are able to save the skeletal remains from taking too much damage and not worry the native communities about their practices for the dead. Also, if the remains are too old or are located in tropical climates, bone samples may not be a viable source for information whereas the dental calculus would still remain intact with a relatively large enough sample for information.