Showing posts from June, 2007

A fowl surprise

Why did the chicken cross the ocean?  It sounds like a bad joke but some Chilean chicken remains are causing a rethink of Pacific exploration.
The Polynesian people of the Pacific were one of the great colonizing cultures of the world. Starting around 2000 years ago, they moved out from the islands of Fiji, Tonga and Somoa.  By AD 1300, they had reached Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. What happened then is unclear.  Did they just stop exploring or continue east and reach the Americas?  Its one of the big unknown questions of Polynesian history.  Up till now there have been several intriguing hints that these great seafaring people made it to the New World.  One of the best clues is the sweet potato. A native of the Andes, this fleshy tuba has been used in the Pacific for over 1000 years.  It seems possible the Polynesians visited the west coast of the Americas and bought the sweet potato back with them.  But not everyone holds with this scenario.  Alternative ideas are that migr…