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Scientists unlock a ‘microbial Pompeii’

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An international team of researchers including scientists from the University of York have discovered a ‘microbial Pompeii’ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old.

The key to the discovery is the dental calculus (plaque) which preserves bacteria and microscopic particles of food on the surfaces of teeth, effectively creating a mineral tomb for microbiomes.

The research team discovered that the ancient human oral cavity carries numerous opportunistic pathogens and that periodontal disease is caused by the same bacteria today as in the past, despite major changes in human diet and hygiene.

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