Chicken DNA Challenges Theory That Polynesians Beat Europeans to Americas
New finding casts doubt on the theory that Polynesians made it to South America.
So why did the chicken cross the Pacific? Well, apparently it didn't. At least not all the way.
Among the intriguing indications that contact might have been made between Polynesians and the native peoples of South America was the supposed pre-Columbian presence of non-native chickens, allegedly introduced to the continent by seafarers from South Pacific islands. More evidence comes from the ubiquity of the sweet potato, a South American native, in the South Pacific—it was already widespread throughout the islands by the time James Cook sailed into the region in 1770. (See National Geographic's South Pacific photos.)
Now it appears the chicken link, at least, may be severed, according to Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient