Peruvian diggers find 2.5 million-year-old tobacco

Nov 20, 2010
An undated picture released on November 19, 2010 by the Museum of Paleontology Meyer Honningen based in the northern city of Chiclayo, 760 km north of Lima, shows a cluster of fossilized tobacco leaves (Nicotiana tabacum), presumably belonging to the Pleistocene era, some two and a half million years ago, found in the Maranon basin, in the Amazonas Department.

Paleontologists in Peru have discovered fossilized tobacco in the northern Amazon that dates back to the Pleistocene Era 2.5 million years ago, the scientists said Friday.

The compact block of , about 30 square centimeters (4.5 square inches), was found by scientists from the Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum earlier this week in the Maranon river basin in northeastern Peru.

"This discovery allows us to establish that the plant dates back to the Pleistocene Era, and confirms that it originated in northern Peru," the museum said in a statement.

Tobacco was smoked and chewed by Native Americans long before the arrival of European explorers in the 15th century, the scientists said.

It was also used for therapeutic purposes -- in everything from eye drops to enemas -- and for rituals, such as blowing smoke into the faces of warriors before battle and on women prior to intercourse, they said.

Explore further: Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

States urged to continue anti-tobacco ads

Jul 06, 2005

Teenagers who are exposed to state-sponsored anti-tobacco advertising are less likely to smoke, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers said Tuesday.

Scientists say the American lion is not a lion after all

May 18, 2010

( -- There has been some debate over the last century or so about whether the extinct American lion, Panthera atrox, which dates from the Pleistocene, is related to present day African lions (Panthera le ...

Pesticides found in tobacco smoke

Apr 18, 2006

Colorado chemists have discovered for the first time government-approved pesticides are present at dangerous levels in tobacco smoke.

Baby's first full nappy can reveal mother's smoking

Aug 26, 2010

Meconium, the dark and tarry stools passed by a baby during the first few days after birth, can be used to determine how much the mother smoked, or if she was exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy.

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

3 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

Apr 17, 2014

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

Apr 17, 2014

( —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 9

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.4 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2010
man i woulda smoked that tobbacy. this IS NOT pointless verbiage. do not , i repeat, do not delete.
1 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2010
I think the writer of this article needs one of those therapeutic tobacco enemas. Sounded like he has a tobacco fettish. Maybe he would like some fat cigar smoking dominatrix to sit on his face?
2 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2010
WHat is meant by "compact block"? Is it a natural "block" ?? or made by a higher intelligence... 2.5 million yrs ago... in Peru?

It is certainly NOT clear in this poorly written release!
not rated yet Nov 20, 2010
The article needs clarification on the source of the "block"... are we talking about a clump made by an early snow and freak flood or by 2.5Myr human ancestors in South America wearing Marlboro T-shirts?!?

At a minimum the original source for this "paleontology find" should be cited so that interested people can look for more information!
not rated yet Nov 20, 2010
Considering what a hundred year old cigar goes for, that stuff would be priceless (if it wasn't a rock)
1 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2010
I totally agree!
I cannot understand what "a compact block" means.
It suggests an artificial intervention, sort of human handling but we all know that 2.5 Myr ago humans were not that clever.
So, what the author intended while describing a "compact block"?
5 / 5 (1) Nov 20, 2010
It's just someone trying to get his weed through customs.
not rated yet Nov 21, 2010
To bad its fossilized :/
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2010
I guess it is just a matter of time before giant fossilized buds made of cannabis are discovered right? Everything was bigger back then :)

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.