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Ancient proteins provide evidence of dairy consumption in eastern Africa

Bleasdale, Madeleine
Richter, Kristine K.
Janzen, Anneke
Brown, Samantha
Scott, Ashley
Zech, Jana
Wilkin, Shevan
Wang, Ke
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Published in Nature communications. 2021, vol. 12, no. 632
Abstract Consuming the milk of other species is a unique adaptation of Homo sapiens, with implications for health, birth spacing and evolution. Key questions nonetheless remain regarding the origins of dairying and its relationship to the genetically-determined ability to drink milk into adulthood through lactase persistence (LP). As a major centre of LP diversity, Africa is of significant interest to the evolution of dairying. Here we report proteomic evidence for milk consumption in ancient Africa. Using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LCMS/MS) we identify dairy proteins in human dental calculus from northeastern Africa, directly demonstrating milk consumption at least six millennia ago. Our findings indicate that pastoralist groups were drinking milk as soon as herding spread into eastern Africa, at a time when the genetic adaptation for milk digestion was absent or rare. Our study links LP status in specific ancient individuals with direct evidence for their consumption of dairy products
Keywords ArchéologiePréhistoireAfriqueSoudanNéolithiqueAlimentation
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Research group Laboratory of Prehistoric Archeology and Anthropology
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BLEASDALE, Madeleine et al. Ancient proteins provide evidence of dairy consumption in eastern Africa. In: Nature Communications, 2021, vol. 12, n° 632. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20682-3 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:148390

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Deposited on : 2021-02-01

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