I used to think that North and South American nations were practically isolated from each other due to a lack of long-distance seafaring technology and the Darién Gap making land travel between them extremely difficult.

Maize was domesticated in the Balsas River Valley of south-central Mexico. But somehow, it is commonly grown on the West coast of South America. According to a genetic study by Embrapa, corn cultivation was introduced in South America from Mexico, in two great waves: the first, more than 6000 years ago, spread through the Andes. Evidence of cultivation in Peru has been found dating to about 6700 years ago. The second wave, about 2000 years ago, through the lowlands of South America.

Meanwhile:

  • Cassava was domesticated in West-Central Brazil
  • Potato was domesticated by the in the region of modern-day Southern Peru and extreme Northwestern Bolivia
  • Neither of these crops spread to North America
  • Potato and Maize cultivation did not spread East of the Andes
  • Neither Potato, Cassava or Maize cultivation spread to the areas of modern-day Argentina and Uruguay

Considering how high-yielding Potato was, and how low-maintenance Cassava is, why wasn't there any incentive to bring them to North America, when the natives of North America were able to bring Maize to South America? Also, why didn't Potato and Maize cultivation spread East of the Andes even though Cassava cultivation was able to spread West of the Andes?

Source: reddit post


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