via Nature Human Behaviour, 20 January 2020: New paper in Nature Human Behavior indicates that people were transporting and growing banana in Vanuatu as far back as 3,000 years ago.
Remote Oceania, which largely consists of islands covered in tropical forests, was the last region on earth to be successfully colonized by humans, beginning 3,000 years ago. We examined human dental calculus from burials in an ancient Lapita culture cemetery to gain insight into the early settlement of this previously untouched tropical environment, specifically on the island of Efate in Vanuatu. Dental calculus is an ideal material to analyse questions of human and plant interactions due to the ingestion of plant-derived microparticles that become incorporated into the calculus as it forms throughout a person’s life. Most of the microparticles identified here are from tree and shrub resources, including a ~2,900 calibrated (cal) BP example of banana in Remote Oceania, providing direct evidence for the importance of forests and arboriculture during the settlement of Remote Oceania.
- 3,000-year-old teeth solve Pacific banana mystery | Science Daily, 20200123