Anthropology

Fossilized cannabis reveals the plant is 27.8 million years old

By tracing cannabis evolution back to a single location on the Tibetan Plateau millions of years ago, we have uncovered the site of the original cannabis landrace strain.

Fossil pollen records tell us that cannabis dispersed into Europe 6 million years ago. Then later East into China 1.2 million years ago. By mapping the distribution of pollen over time, scientists were able to see that European cannabis went through repeated genetic bottlenecks. Following the warm and wet Holocene period, forests replaced open grasslands. Cannabis retreated to the small pockets of open space that it could inhabit. In these small and isolated areas, the population of cannabis shrank. These separated cannabis populations then evolved differently, eventually creating the separate and distinct landrace strains of the European-evolved sativa and the Asian-evolved indica…  Over thousands of years, the original cannabis strain moved across continents, becoming isolated in certain areas. Further research of the region and tracking of a plant called Artemisia, which has a close alliance and parallel evolutionary pattern to cannabis, pinpointed the northeastern Tibetan Plateau as the cannabis center of origin. At the time, the Tibetan Plateau created an environment that supports the theory that cannabinoids developed to protect the plant from UV rays and herbivores. These are both issues in the high altitude, open grassland Tibetan Plateau.

Original Article (RxLeaf):
Fossilized cannabis reveals the plant is 27.8 million years old
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