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, 98 (4), 2104-6

Archaeological Evidence of Teosinte Domestication From Guilá Naquitz, Oaxaca


Archaeological Evidence of Teosinte Domestication From Guilá Naquitz, Oaxaca

B F Benz. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


Analysis of the three most ancient Zea mays inflorescence fragments from Guilá Naquitz, Oaxaca, Mexico shows they did not disarticulate naturally, indicating that agricultural selection of domesticated teosinte was underway by 5,400 (14)C years before the present (about 4,200 dendrocalibrated years B.C.). The cooccurrence of two-ranked specimens with two rows and four rows of grain and numerous additional morphological characteristics of these specimens support hypotheses based on molecular and quantitative genetic analyses that maize evolved from teosinte. Domestication of the wild ancestor of maize occurred before the end of the 5th millennium B.C.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Photograph of three Guilá Naquitz archaeological cobs. Specimens a and b from C9. Cob apex is at left (Upper) or at right (Lower). All three specimens have two ranks of cupules. Specimens a and b have a single spikelet per node, i.e., a single grain per cupule. Specimen a (Upper) shows abaxial side (away from axis), whereas specimen b (Upper) shows adaxial (toward axis) side of bilaterally symmetrical distichous inflorescence. Specimen a (Lower) shows one rank of spikelets on abaxial side, whereas specimen b (Lower) shows abaxial side. Perpendicular orientation of lower glumes of two-rowed specimens is visible in specimens a and b (Lower). Specimen c is the distichous four-rowed specimen from D10. The alternate arrangement of opposing rachids, shallow cupules, and the perpendicular to reflexed lower glumes are visible in Lower, whereas paired spikelets and open cupules are visible in Upper. Specimens are actual size. (Scale = 6 cm.)
Figure 2
Figure 2
Morphometric comparison of the three archaeological specimens from Guilá Naquitz on left with the three earliest archaeological specimens from San Marcos cave, Tehuacán Valley, Puebla, Mexico on right. Rachid length and cupule width are in millimeters; rachis diameter is in centimeters; diamonds indicate mean; error bars represent the 95% confidence interval.

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