“The first cultivated potato was grown in what is now Peru, researchers say, and it originated only once, not several times, as some experts propose. The genetic study shows the first potato known to have been farmed is genetically closest to a species now found only in southern Peru, the US and UK researchers write online, ahead of print, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “This result shows the potato originated one time and from a species that was distributed in southern Peru,” says Professor David Spooner, a US Department of Agriculture researcher at the University of Wisconsin, who led the study. The findings challenge theories that potatoes were first cultivated in Bolivia or Argentina, or that farmers bred them several different times in several different places. “The origin of crop plants has long fascinated botanists, archaeologists, and sociologists with the following fundamental questions: when, where, how, why, and how many times did crop domestication occur? What are the wild progenitors of these crops?” the researchers write. The study did not address when the first potato would have been cultivated, but other research suggests it would have been between 7000 and 10,000 years ago.”
– Maggie Fox, Reuters
Map courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.
Buenos Aires – We are off. To Piruw Mama Llaqta… Piruw Suyu… the Republic of Peru. Off to find the Ancient Potato Homeland. Our travels will span a mere three weeks, but we decided rather than trying to tour and see everything, we’d focus on a few select areas. Early morning tomorrow heads us to Puno (via Lima), along the shores of Lake Titicaca. Expect that over the coming 22 days posting here will be a bit more sporadic than normal, although all of the places we’re staying purport to have wi-fi access, we shall see. We’ll be following, more or less, the route I’ve drawn on the map above (right click and view in another window to get it full sized) – Puno, Cuzco, Trujillo, and then ending up in Lima (which we pass through twice, enroute to Puno and enroute to Trujillo, because that’s simply what flights do in Peru).
Excerpted/edited from Wikipedia: At 496,193 mi², Peru is the world’s twentieth-largest country (after Mongolia). It is nearly twice the size of the US state of Texas. Peru is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia on the north; Brazil and Bolivia to the east; and Chile and Bolivia to the south. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean. Its population has more than 27 million inhabitants that speak Spanish, with others bilingual in Quechua [we’ve learned a little to help break the ice as we travel in the south] or Aymara and other native languages. Eastern Peru consists mostly of the moist tropical jungles of the Amazon Rainforest, the largest on Earth. In the southeast along the border with Bolivia lies Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world. The Altiplano plateau is a dry basin located along the slopes of the Andes in southeastern Peru. Along the border with Chile, the Atacama Desert is the driest place on the planet.