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Permafrost preservation reveals proteomic evidence for yak milk consumption in the 13th century


Ventresca Miller, Alicia R; Wilkin, Shevan; Bayarsaikhan, Jamsranjav; Ramsøe, Abigail; Clark, Julia; Byambadorj, Batsuren; Vanderwarf, Sandra; Vanwezer, Nils; Haruda, Ashleigh; Fernandes, Ricardo; Miller, Bryan; Boivin, Nicole (2023). Permafrost preservation reveals proteomic evidence for yak milk consumption in the 13th century. Communications Biology, 6(1):351.

Abstract

Domesticated yaks endure as iconic symbols of high-altitude frozen landscapes, where herding communities depend on their high-fat milk, transport, dung, and natural fibers. While there is established proteomic evidence for ancient consumption of ruminant and horse milk in the mountains and steppes of northern Eurasia, yak dairy products have yet to be detected. Yak domestication and the species’ dispersal from Tibet into the mountainous zones to the north are also poorly resolved due to a paucity of zooarchaeological data. To examine the potential of paleoproteomics to shed light on domesticated yak in Mongolia, we analyzed human dental calculus from Mongol era elite individuals recovered from permafrost burials in Khovsgol province, where people continue to herd yak to this day. We report the first evidence for yak dairy consumption, linked to local resource control. In addition, we confirm a large diversity of recovered whey, curd, tissue, and blood proteins, likely reflecting the excellent preservation conditions found at permafrost sites.

Abstract

Domesticated yaks endure as iconic symbols of high-altitude frozen landscapes, where herding communities depend on their high-fat milk, transport, dung, and natural fibers. While there is established proteomic evidence for ancient consumption of ruminant and horse milk in the mountains and steppes of northern Eurasia, yak dairy products have yet to be detected. Yak domestication and the species’ dispersal from Tibet into the mountainous zones to the north are also poorly resolved due to a paucity of zooarchaeological data. To examine the potential of paleoproteomics to shed light on domesticated yak in Mongolia, we analyzed human dental calculus from Mongol era elite individuals recovered from permafrost burials in Khovsgol province, where people continue to herd yak to this day. We report the first evidence for yak dairy consumption, linked to local resource control. In addition, we confirm a large diversity of recovered whey, curd, tissue, and blood proteins, likely reflecting the excellent preservation conditions found at permafrost sites.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Medicine (miscellaneous)
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Medicine (miscellaneous)
Language:English
Date:31 March 2023
Deposited On:22 Nov 2023 14:46
Last Modified:29 Jun 2024 01:40
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2399-3642
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-023-04723-3
PubMed ID:37002413
Project Information:
  • : FunderMax-Planck-Gesellschaft
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)