Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cereal is much older than we thought -
100,000 years, to be exact

OTTAWA (AFP) – Starting the day right by eating a bowl of cereal in the morning dates back more than 100,000 years, according to Canadian researchers in a study to be released Friday.

"The consumption of wild cereals among prehistoric hunters and gatherers appears to be far more ancient than previously thought," said study author Julio Mercader.

Indeed, scientific evidence until now showed the practice started only 12,000 years ago at the closing stages of the last Ice Age.

The University of Calgary archeologist recovered dozens of stone tools, animal bones and plant remains dating back more than 100,000 years ago.

Thousands of starch grains on excavated plant grinders and scrapers showed that wild sorghum -- the ancestor of the chief cereal consumed today in sub-Saharan Africa for flours, breads, porridges and alcoholic beverages -- was brought to the cave and processed systematically, said the study.

"This happened during the Middle Stone Age, a time when the collecting of wild grains has conventionally been perceived as an irrelevant activity and not as important as that of roots, fruits and nuts," Mercader said.

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