Ancient Europeans Were Lactose Intolerant

Five-thousand years after agricultural practices spread across Neolithic Europe, human populations remained unable to digest sugars from the milk of mammals.

By | October 21, 2014

Bauersfrau mit drei Kälbchen, by Henry Hetherington EmmersonWIKIMEDIA, NAGEL AUKTIONENWell after agriculture blossomed across Europe, its practitioners remained lactose intolerant, even as the consumption of milk and dairy products from domesticated animals became commonplace, according to new research. Studying ancient DNA extracted from skulls that dated from 5,700 BC to 800 BC, scientists from University College Dublin and their colleagues determined that ancient Europeans carried the genes for lactose intolerance. The team published its findings, which illustrate the genetic changes that lag behind cultural shifts, today (October 21) in Nature Communications.

“The genomes do seem to shift as new technologies come about,” coauthor and Trinity College Dublin research Daniel Bradley told the Washington Post. “You can’t look at this and think that farming and metallurgy are technologies that come into the culture by osmosis. They come with people. Genomes and technology migrate together.”

In addition to the insights they garnered regarding the genetic makeup of ancient Europeans, the study’s authors also contributed to the methodological advancement of extracting useable ancient DNA by learning that the petrous bones of the skull are ideal for such analyses. “The high percentage DNA yield from the petrous bones exceeded those from other bones by up to 183-fold,” study coauthor Ron Pinhasi from the UCD Earth Institute and UCD School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, said in a statement. “This gave us anywhere between 12 percent and almost 90 percent human DNA in our samples compared to somewhere between 0 percent and 20 percent obtained from teeth, fingers and rib bones.”

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Avatar of: Sue50

Sue50

Posts: 11

October 22, 2014

Yet we are mammals drinking our mothers milk amazing. Also the biggest cheese producers for centuries in this region, first cattle farmers. My Dutch grandmother would be sad to hear this, thank fully none in our family, but with age intolerance with some.

October 24, 2014

how many skulls ( or other arche items) threw themselves at the investigators and how is sample bias eliminated!

 

with such few samples, how generalisable are the conclusions.

the finding may just apply to a clinical subset

 

or

 

the phenotype might not have been totally faithful to the genotype, in the presence of epigenetic modifiers.

October 24, 2014

how many skulls ( or other arche items) threw themselves at the investigators and how is sample bias eliminated!

 

with such few samples, how generalisable are the conclusions.

the finding may just apply to a clinical subset

 

or

 

the phenotype might not have been totally faithful to the genotype, in the presence of epigenetic modifiers.

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