As you enjoy pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and pumpkin spice lattes through the cold season, think about its evolution over 10,000 years.
“Fortunately, the fruit found a new mammal to rely on: humans. People had been using wild gourds for containers and possibly even floatation devices for fishnets. But over time, they began eating the fruit, replanting the ones that were most palatable. Eventually, over thousands of years, the fruit evolved to become mild and tasty — and now icons of the fall season.
Scientists have previously known that Cucurbita was domesticated. But to gain more insight, the researchers analyzed the genomes of ancient Cucurbita samples — bits of seeds and rind — found in caves in places such as central Mexico and the Ozark Mountains in the central U.S. The genetic patterns of the samples reveal human agricultural fingerprints all over the plant’s evolutionary history.”