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    Proof of interaction between Polynesia and South America
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2007 Jun 6, 17:14 +1000

    ABOUT HOW A PRE-COLUMBIAN CHOOK PROVIDES COMPELLING EVIDENCE OF
    POLYNESIAN NAVIGATIONAL PROWESS, WHICH LEAD TO INTERACTION WITH SOUTH
    AMERICA
    
    'IT MAY have been the Americas' first takeaway chook. A chicken leg
    unearthed in Chile has provided overwhelming evidence that Polynesians
    reached the Americas at least a century before Columbus.
    
    The chicken, which lived sometime between 1304 and 1424, is
    genetically identical to those discovered at sites on several Pacific
    islands.
    
    Alice Storey, the leader of an international research team that dated
    and tested DNA in the leg bone, said yesterday that Polynesians must
    have been exploring and colonising South America long before
    Europeans.
    
    "It is the only logical conclusion we could come to," said Ms Storey,
    a biology anthropologist at the University of Auckland.
    
    The leg was among 50 chicken bones recovered by Daniel Quiroz, an
    archaeologist digging in El Arenal, Chile, while researching sites
    occupied by South America's Mapuche people. Another archaeologist,
    Jose Miguel Rameriz, called Ms Storey, aware her speciality was the
    genetic history of chickens taken by Polynesians on their Pacific
    voyages.
    
    A single bone was cut into three pieces. One was DNA-tested at the
    University of Auckland and a second went to Massey University, New
    Zealand. Both showed the bone to be "genetically identical" to
    Polynesian chickens, showing the birds were directly related.
    
    The third fragment was tested at a New Zealand carbon-dating
    laboratory, which found that the chicken lived between 1304 and 1424.
    
    Testing by Chilean scientists confirmed that pottery and tools found
    with the bones were also pre-Columbian.
    
    Ms Storey said that, as the Chilean chicken may have been a descendant
    of fowl shipped to South America, the first voyagers to reach its
    shores may have arrived far earlier.
    
    Polynesians "moved out of Tonga and Samoa about 1500 years ago and
    started exploring and colonising, pushing ever east". That they
    reached Hawaii and Easter Island was evidence of their skill.
    
    "Easter Island is hard to hit, it's a tiny spot," Ms Storey said.
    "They knew how to sail against the wind. They could go east, and get
    back west."
    
    They used the stars to navigate. "They didn't see the ocean as a
    barrier the way we do today. The ocean was their highway. It seems
    inevitable they would reach the coast of South America but this is the
    first evidence they made landfall."
    
    Evidence collected from Pacific islands suggested it was not just
    chickens that the Polynesians took with them. "They had pigs and dogs
    and rats and coconuts and breadfruit," Ms Storey said.
    
    Their small boats must have been seagoing versions of the wagon trains
    that crossed the western United States in the 1800s, she said.
    
    The research, involving scientists from Australia, American Samoa,
    Canada and the US, has been published in the Proceedings of the
    National Academy of Sciences.'
    
    From SMH:
    
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/chicken-leg-proves-columbus-was-far-from-first/2007/06/05/1180809520873.html
    
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