Study shows that head lice helped preserve ancient human DNA

Argentina morREADING, ENGLAND – According to a statement issued by the University of Reading, an international team of scientists found pieces of the glue-like substance produced by head lice from ancient mummified remains in Argentina, human hair in a textile from Chile and a shrunken substance. leader of the ancient Jivaro people of Amazon Ecuador. The researchers were then able to extract human DNA from scalp cells trapped in the substance, which is generated by female lice, to attach their eggs, known as nits, to human hair. Mikkel Winther Pedersen from the University of Copenhagen explained that the “nit cement” contained as much DNA as a human tooth and twice as much as is normally extracted from human bones. The DNA extracted from the nitrous cement, he added, revealed the sex of the human hosts; a migration about 2,000 years ago from the plains of the northern Amazon to central western Argentina; and traces of a virus discovered in 2008. Merkel cell Polymavirus is normally secreted by healthy human skin, but once it enters the body, it can cause skin cancer. Its presence on one of the mummies suggests that head lice can spread the virus, Pedersen explained. Read the original scientific article on this research in Molecular biology and evolution. To read more about mummified remains in South America, go to “World Roundup: Argentina.”

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