Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) scientists discovered the evidence of the
shift from wild rice to rice cultivation.
The CAS team collected and analyzed samples of phytoliths, a microscopic
structure of silicon dioxide, from rice leaves in an archaeological profile
at Hehuashan site in China. According to the researchers, a modification in
the quantity and forms of the fan-shaped phytoliths recovered from the Early
Neolithic site showed a change from wild rice to cultivated rice at the time
of human occupation, which provides evidence of potential manipulation of
wild rice during Shangshan Culture period about 10,000 years ago.
The results show that rice cultivation went through a long evolutionary
process. "Ancient humans recognized wild rice could satisfy their hunger,"
said Wu Yan, associate professor from CAS Institute of Vertebrate
Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. "Then they learnt to collect and
preserve wild rice and began rice cultivation."
The researchers also found that the phytoliths were resistant to corrosion
and were well-preserved. Thus, they could be vital in the research about the
origins of rice.