Ancient Popcorn Found in Peru Is 6,700 Years Old

It seems that eating popcorn has been a staple for people's diets for a lot longer than was previously thought.

Scientists from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Washington's Natural History Museum recently uncovered evidence in what is now known as Peru that people did make and eat popcorn and other corn-based foods at least 6,700 years ago.

Natives residing in Peru stated that the preparation of corn-based products for many thousands of years, according to analysis of ancient corncobs, husks, tassels, and stalks recently unearthed at the Paredones and Huaca Prieta archaeological sites on Peru's northern region, as reported by The Inquisitr.

The evidence of corn-based food products before that time period had mainly been comprised of what are known as micro-fossils, which are microscopic remains that do not offer information on the cobs' sizes and shapes.

Additionally, the team found corn micro-fossils with starch grains, suggesting that not only did the ancient residents snack on popcorn, but they may have used corn for flour as well. Scientists were able to determine the relative age of the fossils through the use of radiocarbon dating and other tests, according to National Geographic.

"Corn was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte," said Dolores Piperno, co-author of the paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our results show that only a few thousand years later corn arrived in South America where its evolution into different varieties that are now common in the Andean region began."

Researchers have found evidence that suggests those native people who lived along the northern coast of Peru were eating popcorn around 6,700 years ago. That happens to be 1,000 years earlier than what other scientists had estimated. The find also predates the creation and use of ceramic pottery.

Piperno explained that what excited her the most about the findings was the diversity of the corn-based products. "Farmers like to experiment," she said, "and grow cool things."

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