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In ancient China, sago palms were major plant food prior to rice cultivation

Date:
May 8, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Before rice cultivation became prevalent, ancient populations on the southern coast of China likely relied on sago palms as staple plant foods, according to new research.

This image shows modern starch grains from sago palms and ancient phytolith and starch grains recovered from Neolithic tools.
Credit: Xiaoyan Yang

Before rice cultivation became prevalent, ancient populations on the southern coast of China likely relied on sago palms as staple plant foods, according to scientists.

The research was published May 8 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Xiaoyan Yang and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China.

Little is known about prehistoric diets of those who lived in southern subtropical China, as the acidic soils and humid climate of the region cause poor preservation of plant remains. Though literature and archaeological discoveries have suggested that roots and tubers were the staple foods in this region, no direct evidence has so far been found.

In this study, researchers analyzed starch granules recovered from Neolithic stone tools used approximately 3,350-2,470 BC, and found these to resemble starches typically found in sago-type palms. They found that people at this time also likely relied on bananas, acorns and freshwater roots and tubers as important plant foods prior to the cultivation of rice.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiaoyan Yang, Huw J. Barton, Zhiwei Wan, Quan Li, Zhikun Ma, Mingqi Li, Dan Zhang, Jun Wei. Sago-Type Palms Were an Important Plant Food Prior to Rice in Southern Subtropical China. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e63148 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063148

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "In ancient China, sago palms were major plant food prior to rice cultivation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508172138.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, May 8). In ancient China, sago palms were major plant food prior to rice cultivation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508172138.htm
Public Library of Science. "In ancient China, sago palms were major plant food prior to rice cultivation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508172138.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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