November 21, 2010

Ancient Tobacco Unearthed In Peruvian Amazon

Peruvian paleontologists said Friday they have discovered fossilized tobacco in the northern Amazon that dates back 2.5 million years to the Pleistocene Era.

The small, 4.5-square-inch block of tobacco was found in the Maranon river basin in northeastern Peru earlier this week by a team from the Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum.

"This discovery allows us to establish that the plant dates back to the Pleistocene Era, and confirms that it originated in northern Peru," the museum said in statement to AFP.

Native Americans used tobacco for smoking and chewing long before the arrival of European explorers in the 15th century, according to the scientists.

The Peruvian natives also used tobacco for therapeutic needs and rituals, such as blowing smoke into the faces of warriors before battle and on women prior to intercourse, the scientist said.

Image Courtesy Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum