Peruvian diggers find 2.5 million-year-old tobacco

November 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: Amazon at lowest level in over 40 years in Peru: experts

Related Stories

States urged to continue anti-tobacco ads

July 6, 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 leo) or ...

Pesticides found in tobacco smoke

April 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

August 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

Female golden snub-nosed monkeys share nursing of young

February 21, 2019

An international team of researchers including The University of Western Australia and China's Central South University of Forestry and Technology has discovered that female golden snub-nosed monkeys in China are happy to ...

When does one of the central ideas in economics work?

February 20, 2019

The concept of equilibrium is one of the most central ideas in economics. It is one of the core assumptions in the vast majority of economic models, including models used by policymakers on issues ranging from monetary policy ...

In colliding galaxies, a pipsqueak shines bright

February 20, 2019

In the nearby Whirlpool galaxy and its companion galaxy, M51b, two supermassive black holes heat up and devour surrounding material. These two monsters should be the most luminous X-ray sources in sight, but a new study using ...

Research reveals why the zebra got its stripes

February 20, 2019

Why do zebras have stripes? A study published in PLOS ONE today takes us another step closer to answering this puzzling question and to understanding how stripes actually work.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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.
Nov 21, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
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 :)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.