Monte Verde Potato Project
The earliest evidence of wild potato use anywhere in the world comes from Monte Verde (southern Chile), where tuber fragments were recovered from hearths and food pits that date between 18,500 and 14,500 cal B.P. Those tubers were tentatively assigned to a wild potato species (Solanum maglia) based on their starch granule morphology. Recently, I and my colleagues have called into question that identification due to species-specific inconsistences in the size and shape of remnant starch granules. The goal of this project is to re-examine the previously-used starch granule criteria with more updated morphometric and morphological techniques. My geneticist colleagues have also expressed interest in determining the taxanomic identification of the Monte Verde tuber fragment and are currently running aDNA analyses. This project was funded by a Faculty Research and Creative Grant at U of U ($5,700.00).