We are willing to share this fascinating work done by Christina Warinner, who is an American anthropologist best known for her research on the evolution of ancient microbiomes. She is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. Warinner is also a Research group leader at Max Planck Institue for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. Fascinating research was done by “Christina Warinner.”
Mongolians’ DNA says they can’t digest milk, yet their diet relies on dairy. A researcher investigates why.
Lake Khövsgöl is about as far north of the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar as you can get without leaving the country. If you’re too impatient for the 13-hour bus ride, you can take a prop plane to the town of Murun, then drive for three hours on dirt roads to Khatgal, a tiny village nestled against the lake’s southern shore. The felt yurts that dot the surrounding green plains are a throwback to the days—not so long ago—when most Mongolians lived as subsistence herders.
In July 2017, archaeogeneticist Christina Warinner headed there to learn about the population’s complex relationship with milk. In Khatgal, she found a cooperative called Blessed by Yak, where families within a few hours’ drive pooled the bounty from their cows, goats, sheep, and yaks to supply tourists with heirloom dairy products.
Warinner watched for hours as Blessed by Yak members transformed the liquid into a dizzying array of foods. Milk was everywhere in and around these homes: splashing from swollen udders into wooden buckets, simmering in steel woks atop fires fueled by cow dung, hanging in leather bags from riblike wooden rafters, bubbling in specially made stills, crusting as spatters on the wood-lattice inner walls. The women even washed their hands in whey. “Working with herders is a five-senses experience,” Warinner says. “The taste is really strong; the smell is really strong. It reminds me of when I was nursing my daughter, and everything smelled of milk.