Ancient Human Microbiomes

Christina Warinner, Camilla Speller, Matthew J. Collins, Cecil M. Lewis Jr.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Very recently, we discovered a vast new microbial self: the human microbiome. Our native microbiota interface with our biology and culture to influence our health, behavior, and quality of life, and yet we know very little about their origin, evolution, or ecology. With the advent of industrialization, globalization, and modern sanitation, it is intuitive that we have changed our relationship with microbes, but we have little information about the ancestral state of our microbiome, and therefore, we lack a foundation for characterizing this change. Highthroughput sequencing has opened up new opportunities in the field of paleomicrobiology, allowing us to investigate the evolution of the complex microbial ecologies that inhabit our bodies. By focusing on recent coprolite and dental calculus research, we explore how emerging research on ancient human microbiomes is changing the way we think about ancient disease and how archaeological studies can contribute to a medical understanding of health and nutrition today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125–136
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Early online date3 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Ancient DNA
  • Gut Microbiome
  • Oral Microbiome
  • Paleomicrobiology
  • metagenomics
  • metaproteomics
  • coprolites
  • dental calculus
  • dental plaque

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