Are sweet potatoes key to tracking prehistoric human movements?

01/21/2013 | ScienceMag.org

The key to understanding how prehistoric humans explored the Earth may depend on the genetics of an unsuspecting crop: the sweet potato. That's according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which presents evidence of a link between prehistoric Polynesia and South America based on the analysis of preserved sweet potato samples. Analysis indicated major differences between crop varieties in the west vs. the east, supporting the "tripartite hypothesis" -- that the sweet potato was introduced three times into the region, starting with prehistoric traces.

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