Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Story of Maize

The story of how maize (or corn) was domesticated by human beings is a fascinating mix of biology (both classical and modern) and archaeology. It's a tale of careful observation and empirical reasoning that began not in the past century but over 9000 years ago:

"These people were living in small groups and shifting their settlements seasonally. Yet they were able to transform a grass with many inconvenient, unwanted features into a high-yielding, easily harvested food crop."

Cool fact from the article: George Beadle, of Beadle and Tatum fame, was the first modern biologist to suggest that teosinte was the wild ancestor of domesticated maize.

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