Video: Christina Warinner, archaeological geneticist, studies ancient diseases through fossilized dental plaque

April 26, 2012
Issue 4

Achaeological geneticist Christina Warinner is a researcher at the University of Zurich and has discovered a thrilling new tool that will shed light on the history of diseases dating back to ancient hominids. That new tool is fossilized dental plaque.

Achaeological geneticist Christina Warinner is a researcher at the University of Zurich and has discovered a thrilling new tool that will shed light on the history of diseases dating back to ancient hominids. That new tool is fossilized dental plaque.

During the typical modern-day dental visit, patients will have between 15mg and 30mg of plaque removed from their teeth by their dentist. In ancient times, before the use of toothbrushes, it was possible for a person to have up to 600mg of plaque build-up over the course of his or her lifetime. Plaque fossilizes just like the rest of the skeleton and it can be found worldwide among every population from all time periods. Watch this TEDTalk video to hear what Warinner and her research team have found.