Skip to comments.Ancient Egyptian Cotton Unveils Secrets of Domesticated Crop Evolution
Posted on 04/07/2012 8:24:26 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
Scientists studying 1,600-year-old cotton from the banks of the Nile have found what they believe is the first evidence that punctuated evolution has occurred in a major crop group within the relatively short history of plant domestication.
The findings offer an insight into the dynamics of agriculture in the ancient world and could also help today's domestic crops face challenges such as climate change and water scarcity.
The researchers, led by Dr Robin Allaby from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, examined the remains of ancient cotton at Qasr Ibrim in Egypt's Upper Nile using high throughput sequencing technologies.
This is the first time such technology has been used on ancient plants and also the first time the technique has been applied to archaeological samples in such hot countries.
The site is located about 40 km from Abu Simbel and 70 km from the modern Sudanese border on the east bank of what is now Lake Nasser.
They also studied South American samples from sites in Peru and Brazil aged between 800 and nearly 4,000 years old.
The results showed that even over the relatively short timescale of a millennia and a half, the Egyptian cotton, identified as G. herbaceum, showed evidence of significant genomic reorganisation when the ancient and the modern variety were compared.
However closely-related G.Barbadense from the sites in South America showed genomic stability between the two samples, even though these were separated by more than 2,000 miles in distance and 3,000 years in time.
This divergent picture points towards punctuated evolution -- long periods of evolutionary stability interspersed by bursts of rapid change -- having occurred in the cotton family.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...
Present-day cotton. Scientists studying 1,600-year-old cotton from the banks of the Nile have found what they believe is the first evidence that punctuated evolution has occurred in a major crop group within the relatively short history of plant domestication. (Credit: © Zorro12 / Fotolia)
Farmers have been improving their crops for a long, long time.
You think maize has always consisted of big, sweet, juicy ears? You think apples have always been plump? Cotton got improved as well.
It's called Intelligent Design.
Applying the term “evolution” to the purposeful activities of farmers in selective breeding to improve quality and yield is specious and dishonest.
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Diastrophic cotton ping.
Punctuated evolution is a frankly political term — SJ Gould originated the term “punctuated equilibria” to describe long periods of stasis and the apparent sudden changes to whole taxa as evidenced in the fossil record, coining the term “diastrophe” instead of just using catastrophe. The diastrophe is the punctuation mark in the equilibria.
You mean like farmers saving the best looking seeds from this years crop to plant next year? Isn’t that just quicker natural selection? I’m hoping the white tail deer evolve into a species that learns how to avoid getting hit by vehicles.
A millenium and a half.
People who write for a living should learn the language they use.
It’s called artificial selection.
No, it’s more like saving the seeds from the best plants, most prolific, largest, tastiest, whatever metric the farmer is seeking to cultivate and then planting those seeds together in their own plot and keeping that seed, and so on.
There is an unfortunate bias that farmers are ignorant and that previous civilizations were also. Thinking that our forbears that somehow managed to survive without the technology we enjoy were less intelligent is so arrogant. How many of today’s elite could survive without it? It’s just so much BS because frankly, agriculture is what supports any and all civilization of any type, whether simple or complex.
And generally speaking, the forces that destroy civilizations stem from the urban follies of the non farming classes more often than they stem from agricultural failure.
I don’t care if it’s punctuated or not. Agriculture is the opposite of evolution because the main element in agriculture is the deliberate application of human intelligence to the development of improved specimens.
Trying to pretend that genomic changes in a plant that was a commercialized domestic crop 6000 years ago is evidence of anything other than design is the worst sort of agenda driven anti-science there is.
It is not intelligent design nor is it natural selection and traditional punctuated evolution.
Cotton is a crop and the change in the makeup is the result of dedicated and smart farmers developing seed over long periods of time. Once a major breakthrough was obtained the intensive breeding effort waned.The fact there is similar cotton in the Orient , ie Egypt and most likely India as well, and the Occident points to cotton being migrated with the people coming out of Asia.
If you recall your Darwin, it was detailed studies of just such human selection, especially in pigeons, that led to the thoughts of natural selection over long periods. It is the hand of man directing many trial and error selections that is responsible.
Sorry, that requires far more faith in modern scientific fads than I can muster.
Ever since I read that book back in 1966 or '67 I think of Milo, him cornering the market of Egyptian Cotton but having no buyers. So tried making everyone on the base EAT IT by covering it in chocolate. LOL
What a book! I think I've read four times -- and a copy is still in my nightstand.
That is precisely what I meant.
I do not accept Darwinism.
I see humans engaging in selective breeding through trial and error, and I am happy to call that Intelligent Design.
I also see God creating the wonderful array of life on this planet, and I'm happy calling that Intelligent Design as well.
I have no time for silly concepts like punctuated evolution.
No, it’s not. Artificial selection is sometimes effective, sometimes not; our ancestors didn’t have any valid models for how plant breeding works, that is evidenced in written records as far back as they go — total wackadoo mysticism all the way back. Trying to pretend that humans designed the genome 6000 years ago is the worst sort of agenda driven anti-science that there is.
Darwinism is a fallacious mental construct developed by preachers as a whipping boy against which they can rant and thereby increase the size of their offering takes.
Has it ever occurred to you that charlatans and wackdoodles inhabited academe and government then, just like they do now?
Absence of proof is not proof of absence. It seems to me, that the actual successful domestication and commercial cultivation of hundreds of plants and animal species is proof that whether recorded or not, some of those ancient farmers obviously did have a clue.
But lets just pretend all that happened as a result of spontaneous and unknown mechanisms of evolution and ignore the elephant in the living room, because that’s not mystical.
No, but obviously you haven’t read any of this thread, and are just another troll, spouting incoherent borrowed nonsense.
By all means, resort to name calling rather than actual discussion and debate.
You haven’t been participating in discussion, all you’ve been doing is a troll-jacking of the topic with a bunch of incoherent nonsense. That is what you trolls do.
Ignoring the contribution of artificial selection by intelligent humans is what is nonsense.
Nope, the observed rapid changes in a heavily domesticated commercially cultivated plant was absolutely caused by natural and mystical forces of nature. People had nothing to do with it, not even in the heavily farmed and repeatedly civilized Nile valley, where astonishingly, the greatest change is evident.
Great comments and I’m more likely to accept your premise that government bureaucrats have always been the merit-less political appointees willing to write/believe whatever their master wanted.
I agree punctuated evolution is a political term, which set off a warning when I read the article. It has always seemed to me punk-eek was more of a description of what we see in the fossil record than a theory of how the change happened.
Punctuated equilibria has one virtue, which is that it is derived from the fossil record, unlike the conventional Darwinian approach, which is to claim that the intermediate forms — the ones which “should” be found at what are clearly stark paleontological boundaries — either didn’t get fossilized for reasons not understood, or were once there but, everywhere they were once found, were eroded away for reasons not understood.
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