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Genome info used to reconstruct face of Jomon Period woman from about 3,800 years ago

The woman's face is seen at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park in Tokyo's Taito Ward on March 12, 2018. (Mainichi)

The National Museum of Nature and Science on March 12 unveiled the reconstructed face of a woman from about 3,800 years ago, which was created using genome information extracted from the DNA sample of an excavated tooth.

    This is the first time to restore the face of a person from the Jomon Period (c. 14,000-300 BC) using genome information, and the model is believed to show the precise skin color. The woman is estimated to be in her 40s. Her remains were excavated in 1989 from the Funadomari remains on Rebun island, Hokkaido.

    The project team, including scientists from the museum and the National Institute of Genetics, analyzed the genome information that was extracted from the DNA sample of about 0.2 grams of her molar.

    Facial features, including the color of her skin and eyes, were gained from nine genes. As a result, it was learned that the color of the woman's skin was dark, her hair was fine and curly, and that the color of her eyes was light brown. That information was used to accurately restore the face. The outline of the face was recreated using the shape of the skull. In addition, it was found from the genome that the woman's blood was type-A and that she had an alcohol-degrading enzyme.

    Kenichi Shinoda, vice director at the museum who led the team, commented, "Using DNA, we can now restore the faces of our ancestors. After inspecting this model, I hope people can get a better understanding of genome research today."

    The reconstructed face is on display at the museum as part of an exhibition titled: "The Body: Challenging the Mystery," which runs through June 17.

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