Amazon Product Teaser #1 – Answer

Question: Natural rubber latex has been produced throughout the Amazon Basin, but what was one of its first uses?

Answer Choices: A) body decoration B) caulking boats C) jewelry making D) food subsistence

Correct Answer: B) caulking boats

Summary: Natural rubber latex was used to caulk and waterproof the interiors of handmade boats by the people of the Amazon Basin. John Hemming describes the ancient process of cultivating and using latex in his book Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon. Rubber latex is extracted with a specialized knife with a sharp hook at the end that is then used to cut a shallow, diagonal cut into the bark. The latex seeps from the resin canals within the trees, out of the cut in the bark and into a collection cup. Other applications of natural rubber latex include medical latex gloves, latex balloons, many adhesives, rubber bands and pencil erasers, although scientifically engineered latex has become another popular source.

Extracting natural rubber latex

Man in handmade canoe © C. Plowden/CACE

Source: John Hemming, Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon, 2009; Thames and Hudson

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