, 6 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
The humble banana has a weird & fascinating history, which until recently was buried in the swamps of Papua New Guinea. 🍌🍌🍌

So as you asked, @LittleGwhizz , here’s the story in 6 tweets:

Modern 🍌 are the result of a chance hybrid of two wild species from totally different parts of SE Asia.

How? Who knows!

Like many inter-species hybrids, they are bigger than their parents and sterile. (Kinda like mules)

Hence why they are fleshy, tasty & not packed w seeds.
Ingenious humans noticed this. And even figured out that while this freaky hybrid was no longer capable of producing seeds, you can clone it by cleaving off basal shoots.

They spread cuttings from SE Asia in prehistory, presumably in dug out canoes, all the way to India. #Badass
From India, Arabic traders spread it further to the Med & (maybe) the whole of tropical Africa.

‘Banana’ is from ‘Banan’, apparently the Arabic for ‘finger tips’.

But a lot of the history of bananas is still being uncertain and shrouded in mystery. Why?
Banana fruit and plants are made of really soft, fleshy tissues, with no hard, durable structures like wood.

Add that to the fact that they grow in hot, wet, jungley climates and much of their evidence has long rotted away.

So how do we know anything at all?
One word: Phytoliths.

These are tiny silica particles that are laid down in plant cells: Microscopic fossils that can last millions of years.

Some have been found in Africa dating to millennia before the Arabic traders, leading to heated geeky debate.

Let’s see what unfolds!
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