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Thu Jan 19, 2012, 02:37 PM

Ancient Popcorn Discovered in Peru

ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2012) People living along the coast of Peru were eating popcorn 1,000 years earlier than previously reported and before ceramic pottery was used there, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences co-authored by Dolores Piperno, curator of New World archaeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and emeritus staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Some of the oldest known corncobs, husks, stalks and tassels, dating from 6,700 to 3,000 years ago were found at Paredones and Huaca Prieta, two mound sites on Peru's arid northern coast. The research group, led by Tom Dillehay from Vanderbilt University and Duccio Bonavia from Peru's Academia Nacional de la Historia, also found corn microfossils: starch grains and phytoliths. Characteristics of the cobs -- the earliest ever discovered in South America -- indicate that the sites' ancient inhabitants ate corn several ways, including popcorn and flour corn. However, corn was still not an important part of their diet.

"Corn was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte," Piperno says. "Our results show that only a few thousand years later corn arrived in South America where its evolution into different varieties that are now common in the Andean region began. This evidence further indicates that in many areas corn arrived before pots did and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery."

Understanding the subtle transformations in the characteristics of cobs and kernels that led to the hundreds of maize races known today, as well as where and when each of them developed, is a challenge. Corncobs and kernels were not well preserved in the humid tropical forests between Central and South America, including Panama -- the primary dispersal routes for the crop after it first left Mexico about 8,000 years ago.

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118143624.htm

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Reply Ancient Popcorn Discovered in Peru (Original post)
n2doc Jan 2012 OP
krispos42 Jan 2012 #1
HopeHoops Jan 2012 #2
4dog Jan 2012 #3

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jan 19, 2012, 09:59 PM

1. Obligatory

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Jan 20, 2012, 05:48 PM

2. There are still roughly 4,000 natural varieties of corn in Central America.

 

Unfortunately, the majority of them show at least traces of DNA from Monsanto GM corn. Since corn is wind-pollinated, there's not much you can do to prevent that from happening. Even if it was insect-pollinated, you'd still get infected. Yet another way we're killing the planet... (I hear the music from "Twilight Zone")

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:56 PM

3. Always wanted to know how popcorn was cooked before metal pots

Sounds like people assumed ceramics. Makes sense to me, but evidence here is lacking if the dating is accurate.

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