In comparison to the modern-day corn plant there are not many similarities. Today’s ears of corn average seven inches in length; teosinte’s length is about three inches. The ancestor’s kernels came equipped with a hard shell, while today’s corn has been selectively bred for a softer shell, which makes for easier consumption. Teosinte has kernels on two sides of the ear and they fall out at maturity. Corn has multiple rows of kernels, which remain on the cob. The differences from teosinte seen in corn are due to human selection. This dramatic change from an ancestral plant due to human selection is not unique in corn. This can been seen in many fruits and vegetables. An obvious example is the comparison of the small, tart wild blueberries found commonly in the northeast to the large, sweet ones in the plastic containers in the grocery store. These are known as lowbush and highbush blueberries. The highbush blueberries have been "improved" via artificial selection and are cultivated in unique varities. Lowbush blueberries are allowed to grow wild.
Knowing the drastic change corn has undergone and seeing other examples, such as blueberries (and strawberries - think about the wild ones you pick in and the huge ones that you get at the grocery store), I'm now looking at my fruits and vegetables in a different light. (435 words)
Hufford, M. B., Bilinski, P., Pyhäjärvi, T., & Ross-Ibarra, J. (2012). Teosinte as a model system for population and ecological genomics. Trends in Genetics, 28(12), 605-615.
Kalt, W., McDonald, J. E., Ricker, R. D., & Lu, X. (1999). Anthocyanin content and profile within and among blueberry species. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 79(4), 617-623.
Photo: Teosinte on the left and modern-day corn on the right. Their hybrid is pictured in the center. – John Doebley (http://teosinte.wisc.edu/images.html)