According to a scientific report, the original source of the cannabis plant was found
Scientists may have come to find out where cannabis comes from. It has long been known that cannabis plants are indigenous to Central Asia, but a recent study provides a new perspective on exactly where this genus may have evolved for the first time millions of years ago.
Documents from the Middle Ages show that man has always made assumptions about the geographical origin of cannabis. For more than a thousand years, the famous polymath Ibn Wahshiyya had suggested India and maybe China as early as 930 of our era.
The scarcity of prints fossils (leaf prints made on other objects) in the historical archives has made it difficult for the research community to identify anything more specific than Central Asia, despite the growing popularity cannabis currently underway in many areas of academic and scientific research.
Studies on fossil pollen
"Despite an abundant literature that has emerged over the last three decades, the classification of cannabis and its center of origin is still under debate," says a team led by author and researcher medical John McPartland of the University of Vermont in a new article.
To overcome the lack of printed fossils, scientists turned to pollen from plants of the genus Cannabaceae; these pollens were first studied in the 30 years to help trace the long history of the plant.
Many studies on fossil pollen have been conducted, which has helped identify ancient plant reports in Asia and elsewhere, especially where it grows best.
"Cannabis flourishes in the steppe: an open habitat without trees," the researchers write.
In this new study, McPartland and his team have screened 155's existing studies on fossil pollens in Asia. One of the difficulties with the data is that many of these studies group cannabis pollen grains with those of plants of the genus Humulus. They are similar, since the two plants diverged from each other about 28 million years ago.
To circumvent identification problems, the researchers used a statistical technique using "ecological approximations", in which they probabilistically differentiated pollens from other common plants in the region, including those belonging to the Artemisia kind.
The center of origin and the early cultivation of cannabis in Asia is based on a synthesis of subfossil pollen and archaeobotany studies
Based on the evidence we have, the results suggest what is the most likely geographic origin of cannabis, even if it is an assumption that may be impossible to prove.
"We have bridged the time gap between the date of divergence and the oldest pollen by mapping the earliest appearance of Artemisia," writes the team. The researchers found no pollen from cannabis dating back to 28 millions of years ago but they found some 28 million years old pollen fromArtemisia.
"These data converge on the north-east Tibetan plateau that we deduce as the center of origin of cannabis, in the vicinity of Qinghai Lake at about 3700 meters above sea level." The team believes that cannabis has spread to the west, reaching Russia and Europe about 6 million years ago and eastward, reaching east China 1,2 million years ago.
This co-locates with the first steppe community that has evolved in Asia. From there, cannabis first dispersed to the west (Europe) and then to the east (China). Cannabis pollen in India appeared 32000 years ago. The earliest archaeological remains were found at Japan, 10000 before Christ, followed by China.
This spread has made various cannabis plants readily available for human cultivation throughout Eurasia. It's no wonder that we quickly understood the various properties of the hemp : psychotropic drugs to fibers for ropes and clothes.
Palynology and Fossil Energy Systems
The science that studies fossil palynomorphs is the paléopalynologie. Biogeographers attribute the center of origin of cannabis to "Central Asia", mainly on the basis of data on the distribution of wild plants. Many fossil energy systems attribute cannabis or hops (CH) pollen to collective names (Cannabis / Humulus or Cannabaceae).
CH pollen curves that developed along with crop pollen were identified as cultivated hemp. Sub-fossil seeds (fruit) at archaeological sites also served as proof of culture.
Using a statistical model, the authors of the study estimated that millions of years later, the assembly of plants at this location (including Artemisia) was associated with cannabis , it was likely that the cannabis was also present in this high altitude ecosystem.