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Mummy's Amazing American Maize
Alpha Galileo ^ | 2-14-2007 | U of M

Posted on 02/14/2007 8:49:13 AM PST by blam

Mummy’s amazing American maize

The far-reaching influence of Spanish and Portuguese colonisers appears not to have extended to South American agriculture, scientists studying Andean mummies up to 1,400 years old have found.

The University of Manchester researchers working with colleagues in Buenos Aires compared the DNA of ancient maize found in the funerary offerings of the mummy and at other sites in northwest Argentina with that grown in the same region today.

Surprisingly, they found both ancient and modern samples of the crop were genetically almost identical indicating that modern European influence has not been as great as previously thought.

“The entire culture of South America changed when the Europeans arrived in the 15th century – everything from the language to the whole way of life,” explained Professor Terry Brown, who headed the research in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

“Maize is the staple food crop of the region but prior to colonisation it also had a ritual significance – the indigenous people were amazed by maize and even worshipped it.

“Given the immense changes that took place in South America following the arrival of the Europeans it is surprising that this crop has remained unaltered for hundreds of years.”

Professor Brown’s research partner, Dr Veronica Lia from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, said: "This is the first time that archaeological remains from Argentina have been used in ancient DNA studies.

“Retrieving DNA from archaeological specimens can be a disappointing task, since only a reduced proportion of few remains are sufficiently well-preserved for DNA to be recovered. Fortunately, we were able to overcome this obstacle and to perform genetic analyses with both cobs and kernels.

“As the southernmost extreme of the spread of maize cultivation before the Europeans arrived, this region of the Andes offers very exciting possibilities in terms of the genetic diversity it may harbour.

“Our findings reflect the perpetuation, generation after generation, of the traditions of the native the farmers that inhabit this area.

Using the new facilities in the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre – a cross-faculty institute at the University – Professor Brown is now examining the DNA of ancient Peruvian maize up to 6,000 years old to determine if these much older specimens are also similar to modern crops.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; american; americas; andes; animalhusbandry; argentina; colonisation; colonization; corn; crop; dietandcuisine; godsgravesglyphs; huntergatherers; maize; mummy; newworld; newworldfoods; southamerica; staple; staplecrop

1 posted on 02/14/2007 8:49:14 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 02/14/2007 8:49:40 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

WHAAAAT?!?

During 1400 years the corn didn't evolve!?!

but, but this can't be!


3 posted on 02/14/2007 8:55:07 AM PST by woollyone (a man self-deceived is twice deceived)
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To: woollyone

Some plant species were already genetically selected for high yield by farmers and maxed out thousands of years ago. I can think of a few crops that haven't improved in yield for a looooong time. However, wheat has become so dis-similar from its pre-agricultural form that the older version of wheat is sold as "spelt," supposedly a low-protein ancient version that is easier to digest.

Farmers use evolution all the time. If you're gonna breed cattle, do you want the thin sickly ones to be parents? Probably not, if you plan to stay in business.


4 posted on 02/14/2007 9:06:57 AM PST by kaotic133
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To: Clemenza; martin_fierro

Argentine ping


5 posted on 02/14/2007 9:24:13 AM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: Choose Ye This Day

Argie ping


6 posted on 02/14/2007 9:41:19 AM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: kaotic133

"Farmers use evolution all the time."

Genetic selection (for desireable traits) is used in agriculture.
The gene pool stays the same, just certain traits are selected for and expressed.


7 posted on 02/14/2007 9:44:30 AM PST by HereInTheHeartland (Never bring a knife to a gun fight, or a Democrat to do serious work...)
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To: blam

Corn was a staple crop in the Andes? Were there potatoes in Mexico, then?


8 posted on 02/14/2007 9:57:15 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( New Update to Abortion Section of FRhomepage: it's now the Abortion/Euthanasia Section, for one.)
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To: kaotic133
"Farmers use evolution all the time."

"Farmers use evolution natural selection all the time."

9 posted on 02/14/2007 10:01:01 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( New Update to Abortion Section of FRhomepage: it's now the Abortion/Euthanasia Section, for one.)
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To: Cacique

If it isn't too much of an imposition, what is a cacique? The Spanish dictionary doesn't have it.


10 posted on 02/14/2007 10:02:51 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( New Update to Abortion Section of FRhomepage: it's now the Abortion/Euthanasia Section, for one.)
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To: HereInTheHeartland; Jedi Master Pikachu

Actually when farmers do it, it's called artificial selection. I know if you want to get technical, natural & artificial selection are't proven to create new species (since the process would take a lot longer than human science has existed) but the example of the difference between the wheat of today and spelt still stands. The gene pool DOES change, you simply can't get spelt to produce wheat in a single generation when it took 10,000 years of intentional selection to make it happen.


11 posted on 02/14/2007 10:20:04 AM PST by kaotic133
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...
Thanks Blam.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
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12 posted on 02/14/2007 11:30:38 AM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Wednesday, February 14, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam

Absent the mill, the stuff might as well be cardboard if used for sustenance.


13 posted on 02/14/2007 11:44:02 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
"Farmers use evolution natural UNnatural selection all the time."
14 posted on 02/14/2007 12:26:14 PM PST by null and void (This sentence no verb...)
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To: null and void
Look at comment 11.

You could type that farmers use designed selection......just an idea.

15 posted on 02/14/2007 12:45:16 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( New Update to Abortion Section of FRhomepage: it's now the Abortion/Euthanasia Section, for one.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
Could have. Designed, or artificial didn't dove tail as well with your use of natural, and it tickles me a little to refer to humans as unnatural...
16 posted on 02/14/2007 12:47:38 PM PST by null and void (This sentence no verb...)
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To: blam

Simply amazing


17 posted on 02/14/2007 1:39:28 PM PST by Dustbunny (The BIBLE - Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)
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To: kaotic133; Jedi Master Pikachu

Are you sure that spelt has less protein than modern wheat. I had the impression it was as good or higher. I know that short grained rice has a higher protein comtent than long grain rice.

A cacique is a native chief. I have used on line dictionaries to try to translate Spanish language newspaper articles. I find they only define about 1/2 the words I am looking for. May Spanish is already reasonably good, so these are the less common words. There is a dictionary by Cuyas that is like the Webster for Spanish.


18 posted on 02/14/2007 4:20:30 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: gleeaikin

Appreciate the definition of cacique.


19 posted on 02/15/2007 12:13:56 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( New Update to Abortion Section of FRhomepage: it's now the Abortion/Euthanasia Section, for one.)
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To: Cacique

(Thanks for including me on the ping.)

Maize? "Maize"??? What the heck is Maize?

I think they must mean "choclo."


20 posted on 02/15/2007 12:19:03 AM PST by Choose Ye This Day (Fluffernutter.)
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To: blam
"amazed by maize" I am AMAIZED
21 posted on 02/15/2007 5:06:59 AM PST by Sam Ketcham (Amnesty means vote dilution, & increased taxes to bring us down to the world poverty level.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

Cacique is the Taino and Carib word for paramount chief. The Spaniards use it to alude to all paramount chiefs. It has also come into usage to mean "BOSS" a moniquer and apelation my father held. When he passed on I took the title as my web name. it is pronounced KA SI KE. A really good Spanish dictionary should have the word in it.


22 posted on 02/16/2007 3:42:47 PM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: Cacique

Appreciated.


23 posted on 02/16/2007 3:46:05 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( New Update to Abortion Section of FRhomepage: it's now the Abortion/Euthanasia Section, for one.)
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To: blam

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24 posted on 07/10/2009 5:12:19 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/__Since Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
"Farmers use evolution natural selection deliberate human selection
25 posted on 03/23/2010 7:22:05 PM PDT by arthurus ("If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, don't shoot an abortionist." -Ann C.)
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