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Dr Sarah Taber @SarahTaber_bww
, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Yeah brassicas are all the same species. Each one's just bred to have one Extra part:

cabbage, kale, collards, etc- leaves
broccoli: flower stalks
brussels sprouts: axillary buds
turnips: root
kohlrabi: stem
mustard: lots of seeds
So brassicas are kind of like how dog breeds might look very different, but you can still tell they're all the same critter.

Maize is more like ... you started with a dog, 10K's of years pass, now you have an elephant, and we don't know how the hell it happened.*
Brassicas are only really "different" in the grocery store. If you look at the plants in person, they're recognizably related.

For teosinte to become maize, SO MANY THINGS had to happen. Bigger softer seeds; lots of little grass heads had to become one big-ass corncob.
The loose, vaguely sheath-y leaf around teosinte seedheads had to become tight multi-leaf husk. Teosinte makes paired embryos & always aborts one, maize had to be trained to keep both & turn both into seeds; etc.
The distance between various brassicas, & the distance between maize & teosinte, there's just no comparison lol. The teosinte->maize changes reach so deep into how a plant behaves that crop scientists can't even with it.
*We know exactly who did it, & roughly how. Native peoples in Mexico 7-8,000 years ago, by planting seeds of the most edible & farmer-friendly plants for next year.

But other than that... did they also hand-pollinate? Did they detassel? FOR REAL. WHAT DID THEY DO
Humans have been domesticating crops around the globe for tens of thousands of years. And not once has that process changed a plant so drastically from its wild form, as it did with maize.

Whatever they did, it *really* worked.
Anyway, that's something that haunts crop scientists every day. we're gonna spend our whole lives fiddling w plants & never get anywhere close to as much action as these GENIUSES in ancient Mexico. and we just have to live with it

crop scientist out
Hmm since this thread is getting a lot of "Aliens!" replies uhh
I know y'all just goofin around, but "The natives are TOO PRIMITIVE to have done/built this thing, it must have been aliens" is kind of a time-honored racist trope

Straight-up racism is a huge driver of those "X was built by aliens" conspiracy theories we're referencing here. 😬
Maize: 100% handmade by earthlings 🌎
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