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Author Topic: Crops evolving 10 millennia before experts thought
Doug M
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Of course, they leave out Africa even though the roots of all human hunter and gathering activity is in Africa and the roots of the behaviors and activities that led to the development of agriculture.

quote:

UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK —Ancient hunter-gatherers began to systemically affect the evolution of crops up to thirty thousand years ago - around ten millennia before experts previously thought - according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Professor Robin Allaby, in Warwick's School of Life Sciences, has discovered that human crop gathering was so extensive, as long ago as the last Ice Age, that it started to have an effect on the evolution of rice, wheat and barley - triggering the process which turned these plants from wild to domesticated.

In Tell Qaramel, an area of modern day northern Syria, the research demonstrates evidence of einkorn being affected up to thirty thousand years ago, and rice has been shown to be affected more than thirteen thousand years ago in South, East and South-East Asia.

Furthermore, emmer wheat is proved to have been affected twenty-five thousand years ago in the Southern Levant - and barley in the same geographical region over twenty-one thousand years ago.

The researchers traced the timeline of crop evolution in these areas by analysing the evolving gene frequencies of archaeologically uncovered plant remains.

Wild plants contain a gene which enables them to spread or shatter their seeds widely. When a plant begins to be gathered on a large scale, human activity alters its evolution, changing this gene and causing the plant to retain its seeds instead of spreading them - thus adapting it to the human environment, and eventually agriculture.

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/fall-2017/article/crops-evolving-10-millennia-before-experts-thought

Earlier related paper:
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0131422&type=printable


Earliest evidence for wild grain harvesting in Middle Stone Age Africa 100,000 years ago:
quote:

The consumption of wild cereals among prehistoric hunters and gatherers appears to be far more ancient than previously thought, according to a University of Calgary archaeologist who has found the oldest example of extensive reliance on cereal and root staples in the diet of early Homo sapiens more than 100,000 years ago.

Julio Mercader, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Tropical Archaeology in the U of C's Department of Archaeology, recovered dozens of stone tools from a deep cave in Mozambique showing that wild sorghum, the ancestor of the chief cereal consumed today in sub-Saharan Africa for flours, breads, porridges and alcoholic beverages, was in Homo sapiens' pantry along with the African wine palm, the false banana, pigeon peas, wild oranges and the African "potato." This is the earliest direct evidence of humans using pre-domesticated cereals anywhere in the world. Mercader's findings are published in the December 18 issue of the research journal Science.

"This broadens the timeline for the use of grass seeds by our species, and is proof of an expanded and sophisticated diet much earlier than we believed," Mercader said. "This happened during the Middle Stone Age, a time when the collecting of wild grains has conventionally been perceived as an irrelevant activity and not as important as that of roots, fruits and nuts."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20019285
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Clyde Winters
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None of these articles are talking about domesticated status for the cultivation of wheat and barley. In reality, the papers are talking about people collecting seeds and etc., for food.

This research , in reality, fails to "broadens the timeline for the use of grass seeds by our species, and is proof of an expanded and sophisticated diet much earlier than we believed," as Mercader maintains, because this is what hunter gathers do--collect available food resources.

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C. A. Winters

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Clyde Winters
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Have you ever noticed that when researchers write about plant domestication they never provide the site where it began in the so-called "Fertile Crescent" 11,000 years ago--but we do have dated sites for animal and plant domestication in Africa.

It is also interesting to note that the first domesticated plant for African and first European farmers was millet-- not wheat.

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C. A. Winters

Posts: 12279 | From: Chicago | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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