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Damn, the domestication of corn goes wild
Could not catch me eating teosinte
Corn—ah yes, we all know it, its tender kernels begging to be nibbled on like a typewriter.
But where did corn (or as many call it, maize) come from? This was the question on my mind when I googled “how was corn domesticated” a few months ago. Turns out it was domesticated from this grass called Teosinte.
I guess it started 6000 years ago in Mexico, and then it moved into South America and sort of parallel path-ed for a while. I read this article that mentioned that a lot of maize agriculture happened in the Amazon and that linguistically, the word for maize used in the Amazon matches the genetic history of where it was found throughout South America, suggesting a period of eastward expansion from the Amazon elsewhere.
“We couldn't make heads or tails out of what we were seeing until we started talking to linguistic experts, paleoecologists and archaeologists,” he elaborates. “Then it clicked.”
Some revelations came about by happy coincidence. While Kistler was presenting an early version of his findings in Brazil last year, Flaviane Malaquias Costa, a PhD student at the University of São Paulo, was in the audience. She pointed out that Kistler’s genetic map bore remarkable similarity to the distribution of an Amazonian word for maize.
So I thought that was pretty cool. It just rocks when people from different disciplines come to these conclusions together, right?
Anyway, it seems like basically a miracle that we got strong, robust, erect corn from flaccid and floppy teosinte. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of the indigenous peoples of the Americas that they were able to breed such an unbelievably calorically dense crop. It’s basically a marvel of genetic engineering.
We are honestly so pathetic compared to them. I mean, imagine that your life is like this:
Every night, you find yourself here. This is where you spend every single night.
You don’t get to go away every once a while and stay here:
No, every night you sit in the middle of the woods, with a dark ass forest around, staring into the campfire. That’s the only thing you can do at night. Everything else will get you killed. And then you have to also figure out all of agriculture just to stay alive. And you have no one to ask about it, except for old people:
And that’s your whole life. Oh, and if they want to, the people one hill over can just come kill you whenever they want. And they often do!
Now, I spend my time thinking about which OKRs an epic is aligned with. Feels pretty pathetic compared to those people who made corn. They amaze me.
Nabeel is flying on a plane when he has to write this once more. Notice how he’s always on a plane…