A nuisance to dentists is now a boon for archaeologists. Researchers have successfully sequenced DNA from fossilized plaque on 700-year-old teeth.
Solidified plaque—called calculus, tartar, or that chalky stuff the dentist scrapes off—contains a whopping 25 times more DNA than ancient tooth or bone. And, in a paper published Wednesday in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Christina Warinner and colleagues detail how they‘ve used plaque in research, a process that could catch on as a way to gather otherwise unobtainable information about the ancient world.
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