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Why did almonds prove domesticable while acorns were not?Jared Diamond

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erik23 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 15, 2008 at 10:11 AM via web

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Why did almonds prove domesticable while acorns were not?

Jared Diamond

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mattiefattie | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 31, 2011 at 5:55 AM (Answer #3)

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Since wild Almonds have an intensely bitter chemical called amygdalin which breaks down the yield of the poison cyanide. A snack of wild almonds can kill a person foolish enough to ignore the warning of the bitter taste. So the only explanation was that an individual almond tree must have had a mutation that prevents them from making the bitter taste. Farmers would of course only plant this tree while proving that the almond was domesticable. However the acorns were not because the trees took too long to grow, squirrels would take the acorns and bury them, and a controlled gene in the acorns.


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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 15, 2008 at 12:39 PM (Answer #1)

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There is, of course, a good reason that acorns are not used as food as readily as almonds.  Acorns have a high levels of tannins found in them. What's wrong with tannins?  Tannins are quite dangerous for us because they can rob the body’s absorption of important minerals such as calcium and iron .  Our forefathers of course did not know about this but they did know how the nut tasted and acorns are much more bitter than almonds.   Besides, Almonds are not really nuts anyway, they are a fruit called a drupe.  Coconuts are also drupes.


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