Monday, January 14, 2013

Ancient poop tells story of how urbanisation changed the intestine

Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Research by US scientists into the composition of dried human faeces from archeological sites shows that the increasingly urban and cosmopolitan way of modern life has led to dramatic changes in the make-up of human intestinal flora.

Raul Tito and his colleagues from the University of Oklahoma analysed the microbial composition of coprolite samples (faeces retrieved from archaeological contexts) from three locations in the Americas.

The sites were chosen because they provided a broad range of environmental conditions.

The samples taken from Hinds Cave in the southwestern United States were the oldest, at around 8,000 years, while those recovered from Rio Zape in northern Mexico were 1,400 years old.

The samples taken from naturally preserved mummies in Caserones in northern Chile were 1,600 years old.

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