The Evolution of Corn
10,000 years ago, there was no such thing as corn, just a wild grassy plant called Teosinte. This plant looked little like the corn that we know today, but ancient farmers, in what is now Mexico, domesticated the corn, or maize, by choosing which kernels (seeds) to plant. In doing so, these ancient farmers transformed teosinte into corn through artificial selection, which is the process of breeding certain types of plants for desired qualities.
Some of these modifications included changes in:
- Corn types and amount of starch production
- The corn’s ability to grow in different climates and soil types
- Length and number of kernel rows
- Kernel size, shape, and color
- Resistance towards pests
With the modification of teosinte, farmers developed a prototype of corn, based on a yearly selection of what they considered to be the best corn samples to take seeds from for the following season.
With each generation, the crops were enriched with qualities that would make them more desirable for humans. Over time, these modifications, which improved the crops from year to year, have developed into the classic corn that we know today.