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The Initial Domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 Years Ago

Science  09 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5314, pp. 932-934
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5314.932

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Abstract

Squash seeds, peduncles, and fruit rind fragments from Archaic period stratigraphic zones of Guilá Naquitz cave in Oaxaca, Mexico, are assigned to Cucurbita pepo on the basis of diagnostic morphological characters and identified as representing a domesticated plant on the basis of increased seed length and peduncle diameter, as well as changes in fruit shape and color, in comparison to wild Cucurbita gourds. Nine accelerator mass spectrometer radiocarbon dates on these specimens document the cultivation ofC. pepo by the inhabitants of Guilá Naquitz cave between 10,000 to 8000 calendar years ago (9000 to 7000 carbon-14 years before the present), which predates maize, beans, and other directly dated domesticates in the Americas by more than 4000 years.

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