Gourds brought to the Americas from Asia
A Harvard University genetic study suggests ancient humans brought bottle gourds to the Americas from Asia some 10,000 years ago.
The thick-skinned bottle gourds widely used as containers by prehistoric peoples were likely brought to the Americas by people arriving from Asia, according to the genetic comparison of modern bottle gourds with gourds found at archaeological sites in the Western Hemisphere.
The finding solves a longstanding archaeological mystery by explaining how a domesticated variant of a species native to Africa ended up millennia ago in places as far removed as modern-day Florida, Kentucky, Mexico and Peru.
The work -- a collaboration of anthropologists and biologists from Harvard, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, Massey University in New Zealand, and the University of Maine -- appears this week online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International