Pollen dating

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Certainly no one grows up wanting to be a pollen scientist.

Even experts in the field have a curious tendency to explain that they came to pollen only by accident and somehow got hooked.

What studying pollen gives scientists, in other words, is the means to do what the poet William Blake once imagined: To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.

Add to that the ability to solve the occasional murder and palynology begins to sound like the kind of career a kid could grow up dreaming about. Excerpted from Environment Yale, an online magazine with a mission to reflect the intellectual vitality of the faculty, students, and alumni of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

That's because there isn't much evidence of ancient cannabis in fossil impressions — imprints that plants leave behind in rock.

But there was abundant fossil pollen representing the Cannabis genus, scientists recently reported.

But Cannabis diverged from Humulus around 28 million years ago, suggesting that it might have originated somewhere else, the study authors wrote in the new study.

While the researchers didn't find any Cannabis pollen dating to 28 million years ago, they did find 28-million-year-old pollen from Artemisia, another genus of steppe plant that grew abundantly alongside Cannabis millions of years later.

While this medicinal and psychotropic plant was long thought to have first evolved in central Asia, scientists were hazy on the precise location.

From the Tibetan Plateau, Cannabis reached Europe approximately 6 million years ago, and spread as far as eastern China by 1.2 million years ago, the scientists reported.

The findings were published online May 14 in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Museums use pollen to authenticate paintings by master artists.

Oil companies study fossil pollen to locate hydrocarbon deposits.

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