Ancient Mesoamericans Invented Rubber 3,000 Years Before Goodyear

By | January 19, 2020

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Rubber played a big part in the traditional Mesoamerican ballgame, which was played by many civilizations in Mesoamerica. (Photo by Alex Peña/LatinContent via Getty Images)

Do a quick Google search for who invented rubber, and you will see the name Charles Goodyear pop up quite a bit. The American chemist and namesake of the Goodyear Tire Company gets most of the credit for the creation of rubber and all the rubber products in our lives, but rubber predates Goodyear by three centuries. The ancient Mesoamericans were using rubber long before Goodyear and his accidental discovery of the vulcanization process in 1839. Let's look more closely at rubber in the centuries before Charles Goodyear. 

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The rubber tree of Central American exudes an elastic latex. (

The Rubber Tree

Castilla elastica, or the rubber tree, is a large tree indigenous to Central America that produces a strangely stretchy substance called latex. Contrary to popular belief, the latex is not the sap of the rubber tree; it's actually found in the layers of bark. This latex can be easily extracted to serve a variety of purposes.