Humans have been enjoying chocolate far longer than previously thought, according to a study which found that cacao was grown for food 5,300 years ago at an ancient settlement in the highlands of southeastern Ecuador. Archaeological evidence of cacao's use, dating back to 3,900 years ago, previously planted the idea that the cacao tree -- from which chocolate is made -- was first domesticated in Central America, according to the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
However, genetic evidence shows that the highest diversity of the cacao tree and related species is actually found in equatorial South America -- where cacao is important to contemporary Indigenous groups. Researchers, including those from the University of British Columbia in Canada, searched for evidence of the plant at an archaeological site in the region. -- PTI