2018-04-12 20:40:08 UTC
'Evidence reported in the journal Current Biology on April 12 shows that
sweet potatoes arose before there were any humans around to eat them.
The findings also suggest that the sweet potato crossed the ocean from
America to Polynesia without any help from people. The discovery raises
doubts about the existence of pre-Columbian contacts between Polynesia
and the American continent.
"Apart from identifying its progenitor, we also discovered that sweet
potato originated well before humans, at least 800,000 years ago," says
Robert Scotland from the University of Oxford. "Therefore, it is likely
that the edible root already existed when humans first found this
'"Our results challenge not only the hypothesis that the sweet potato
was taken to Polynesia by humans, but also the long-time argued
existence of ancient contacts between Americans and Polynesians,"
Munoz-Rodriguez says. "These contacts were considered as true based on
evidence from chickens, humans, and sweet potato. Evidence from chickens
and humans is now considered questionable, and thus sweet potato was the
remaining biological evidence of these alleged contacts. Therefore, our
results refute the dominant theory and call into question the existence
of pre-European contacts across the Pacific."'