Christina Warinner uncovers ancient tales in dental plaque | Science News

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Christina Warinner uncovers ancient tales in dental plaque

DNA on fossil teeth offers clues to past lifestyles, health and disease

1:45pm, October 4, 2017
Christina Warinner

Christina Warinner’s work with microbes hasn’t made her a germaphobe. “It’s given me this deep appreciation for this microbial world in which we live,” she says.

Christina Warinner, 37
Molecular anthropologist
University of Oklahoma
Max Planck Institute for the
Science of Human History

In a pitch-black rainforest with fluttering moths and crawling centipedes, Christina Warinner dug up her first skeleton. Well, technically it was a full skeleton plus two headless ones, all seated and draped in ornate jewelry. To deter looters, she excavated through the night while one teammate held up a light and another killed as many bugs as possible.

As Warinner worked, unanswerable questions about the people whose skeletons she was excavating flew through her mind. “There’s only so much you can learn by looking with your own eyes at a skeleton,” she says. “I became increasingly

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