bone found in Chile provides solid evidence to settle a debate over whether Polynesians traveling on rafts visited South America thousands of years ago -- or vice versa.....
Chickens originally come from southeast Asia, and many researchers had assumed that Spanish conquistadors carried them there in the 16th century.
Other experts were not sure, and when a team stumbled on some old chicken
bones at an archeological site in Chile, they decided to carbon date them and look at the DNA.
Luckily for the researchers, the chicken
DNA carries a rare mutation.
It is identical to bones from two prehistoric archeological sites in the Pacific: Mele Havea in Tonga, dating to 2,000 years ago, and one from American Samoa, about the same age as the Chilean site.
So why did the chicken
cross the Pacific? Well, apparently it didn't. At least not all the way.
Scientists looking into the DNA of ancient and modern chicken
breeds found throughout Micronesia and Polynesia have determined that they are genetically distinct from those found in South America. The research runs counter to a popular theory that Polynesian seafarers might have reached the coast of South America hundreds of years ago, before European explorers.
Among the intriguing indications that contact might have been made between Polynesians and the native peoples of South America was the supposed pre-Columbian presence of non-native chickens, allegedly introduced to the continent by seafarers from South Pacific islands.
How The Sweet Potato Crossed The Pacific Way Before The Europeans Did
When it comes to spreading food around the world, Christopher Columbus and his European compatriots get most of the credit.
Yes, they introduced some quintessential ingredients into European and Asian cuisine. Who could imagine Italian food without the tomato? Or Indian and Chinese dishes without the spicy kick of chili peppers?
But anthropologists think that a few foods made the 5,000-mile trek across the Pacific Ocean long before Columbus landed in the New World. And their proof is in the potato — the sweet potato.