You probably know that the Brothers Grimm wrote "Little Red Riding Hood," or at least, were the ones who made the version of the tale you're familiar with famous. But the folktale's origins actually stretch into the distant and murky past, before the Grimm boys were ever born. Earlier stories with similar features existed all over the world. Now, thanks to a computer technique most often used by biologists, we might have an idea of the path it took, NBC reports.
Many had assumed that the story sprung out of Asian tales like "The Tiger Grandmother," and then traveled along the Silk Road. To settle the matter, anthropologist Jamshid Tehrani classified all these versions based on 72 plot elements, and mapped them the way biologists map species to try to find common ancestors. His conclusion: The Asian version actually derives from the European tale, "The Wolf and the Kids," which surfaced in the first century—or about 1,000 years before the Red Riding Hood version. (More Little Red Riding Hood stories.)