Incredible journey


After decades of international debate, Auckland University researchers have found the first concrete evidence that Polynesian explorers reached South America before Europeans. The research team, led by archaeologist Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith, used genetic analysis and radiocarbon dating of chicken bones found in Chile to show that the fowl originated in Polynesia and not Europe, as was previously believed. The findings show that Polynesians reached the continent no later than 1407 – nearly a decade before its Spanish settlement. “The Polynesian contact probably didn’t change the course of prehistory, but I think maybe it makes us recognize the ethnocentrism in our long-standing views of the prehistory of the New World,” said American archaeologist Terry L. Jones in the LA Times. “The basic premise has always been that there was only one civilization capable of crossing the ocean and discovering the New World … [these findings show that] the prehistory of the New World was probably a little bit more complicated than we thought in the past.” The Auckland University study was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(5 June 2007)

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