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According to Popular Science (This article and its images were originally posted on Popular Science January 10, 2019 at 11:31AM.)
Dead men tell no tales, or so the saying goes. But one woman just managed to illuminate her life story from beyond the grave.
In 2014, archaeologist Anita Radini was studying the dental calculus of bodies buried in a medieval church. This hardened plaque, or tartar, is the bane of a modern dentist’s existence, but it’s crucial evidence for researchers peering into the past. While other body parts disintegrate, teeth often stubbornly remain, and the chemical components of these pearly whites can offer a glimpse into our daily lives.
At the time, Radini was scraping old teeth in pursuit of calcified starches, a useful proxy for diet. Her colleague Christina Warinner, an expert in the evolution of ancient microbes at the Max Planck Institute, hoped to better understand oral bacteria. But something in the mouth of specimen B78 distracted both researchers from their initial pursuits: scattered specks of a brilliant blue.
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