In Guns, Germs, and Steel, how does comparing mutations help trace the spread of agriculture?can you explain the answer and then state where in the book you found it because i have absolutely NO...

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, how does comparing mutations help trace the spread of agriculture?

can you explain the answer and then state where in the book you found it because i have absolutely NO idea where to find this or what the answer might be! thanks :)

Asked on by jlfsoccer

1 Answer | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are at least two places in which one can find this answer.

First, you can look in Chapter 7.  There, Diamond talks about how early farmers would select plants that had beneficial mutations.  As they kept doing this, their domesticated plants would come to look very different from wild plants.  The spread of this mutation (through diffusion of the crop to other societies) could show us how agriculture spread.

Second, you can look in Chapter 10.  Beginning on p. 178 in the paperback edition of the book, Diamond tells us that plants in different areas had different mutations.  Given this knowledge, we can look at the modern versions of those plants.  We can look at, for example, chili peppers, and see that they were domesticated independently.  We can know this because different domesticated chili peppers have different mutations that originated in different wild populations.  By contrast, most crops that arose in the Fertile Crescent show only one mutation.  This shows that those crops arose in one place and then spread by the process of diffusion.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question