Subscribe to get full access to all our content
interactive news
South American Fossil Tomatillos Show Nightshades Evolved Earlier Than Thought
Rare find gives new insight into plant evolution (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 241)
Jan 11, 2017 History
A
A
A

A fossilized tomatillo, still in its papery shell, is the earliest fruit from the tomato family ever found in South America, researchers reported at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting. "It's quite amazing, " said Peter Wilf, a paleobotanist at Penn State University. "We've collected over 10,000 fossils and there's only one of these."

Though it has been flattened, the ancient fruit closely resembles the modern tomatillo which is widely used as an ingredient in salsa. The fossil has a dark fruit enclosed by a papery shell, just like the modern version, Wilf said. Incredibly the ancient fossil tomatillo and today's modern plants have husks with five major and five minor ribs, he added. The fossil measures in at around 23 millimeters wide.

Tomatillos belong to the family of plants known as nightshades and includes tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. All the evidence points to nightshades coming from South America originally. The fossil tomatillo that was discovered dates back 52.2 million years. This is by far the oldest member of this important plant ever found and it pushes back the evolutionary history of the tomato family considerably.

Previous estimates of the nightshade family placed it as being between 35 and 51 million years old. The tomatillo group, which the fossil belongs to, was thought to be only 9 to 11 million years old. Wilf observed that "the nightshades as a whole, contrary to what was thought, are far older than 52 million years."

Related Articles
Australia Celebrated The First Armistice Day 100 Years Ago
Nov 13, 2018
Abstract Art Has Longer History Than Previously Known
Sep 13, 2018
Brazil's Museum Fire Is A Global Tragedy
Sep 6, 2018
Joël Robuchon, Michelin starred French celebrity chef, dies aged 73
Aug 7, 2018
What Actually Happened On The Original Bastille Day
Jul 13, 2018
Want To Own Your Own Town?
Jun 13, 2018
Google Doodle Celebrates American Doctor On her 109th Birthday
Jun 8, 2018
Generations Of War Blamed For Diversity Collapse 7,000 Years Ago
Jun 1, 2018
2,500-Year-Old Mummy Found In Coffin At The University Of Sydney in Australia
Mar 28, 2018
Dinosaur-era Shark With 300 Teeth, Caught Off The Coast Of Portugal
Nov 13, 2017
Notes Written By Einstein In A Tokyo Hotel In 1922 Now Worth A Fortune
Oct 26, 2017
Ancient Teeth Found in Europe Challenge Accepted Theories
Oct 25, 2017
September 7th Is National Beer Lover's Day
Sep 7, 2017
Captain Scott Left An Ancient Cake Over 100 Years Old
Aug 13, 2017
World's Oldest And Most Amazing Remaining Trees
Jun 13, 2017
Zaha Hadid - The Woman Who Reshaped Modern Architecture
Jun 1, 2017
The Best-preserved Armoured Dinosaur Ever Found
May 18, 2017
Ophthalmologist Ferdinand Monoyer's 181st Birthday
May 9, 2017
The Loch Ness Monster Is Missing
May 2, 2017
Woolly Mammoth Died Out Because Of DNA Errors
Mar 7, 2017
A Recipe For Medicinal Sweets, Written 600 Years Ago
Mar 1, 2017
2,000-Year-Old Seeds Found In Ancient Chinese Tomb
Feb 17, 2017
Massive Ancient Undersea Landslide Discovered in Australia
Feb 9, 2017
It's Friday 13th - An Unlucky Day For Some
Jan 13, 2017
South American Fossil Tomatillos Show Nightshades Evolved Earlier Than Thought
Jan 11, 2017
Winter Solstice Today - The Shortest Day Of The Year Has Arrived
Dec 21, 2016
Real Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved In Amber
Dec 13, 2016
Christie's Auction House Sells Monet Painting for $81.4 Million
Nov 18, 2016
1901 - Woman Survives Barrel Plunge Over Niagara Falls
Oct 24, 2016
Huge Dinosaur Footprint Is Possibly Largest Ever
Oct 11, 2016
Did South Americans Wear Blue Jeans?
Sep 19, 2016
This Day In History: Much Of London Destroyed In Great Fire In 1666
Sep 2, 2016
What Was Oetzi The Iceman Wearing?
Aug 23, 2016
This Week In History: First Man On The Moon
Jul 20, 2016
Voynich Manuscript
May 14, 2016
10 Phrases From Shakespeare We still Use
Apr 26, 2016
200 Years of the Bicycle
Apr 14, 2016
Famous Artworks You Should Know
Apr 13, 2016
Interesting facts about Apple
Apr 6, 2016
History of Apple
Apr 5, 2016

aid

help


n,v.援助

a-ma-zing

makes you surprised


adj.惊人

an-cient

very old


adj.古老

an-nu-al

happening every year


adj.年度/全年

con-tra-ry

the opposite of what you expect


adj.相反

dis-co-vered

found, uncovered


v.发现    

es-ti-mates

rough judgements of the number or value of something


n.估计

e-vi-dence

facts that show something is true


n.证据

fos-sil

what is left behind of a very old life form


n.化石

ge-o-log-ical

of, relating to, or based on geology


adj.地质

in-gre-di-ent

any of the foods or substances that are combined to make a particular dish


n.成分

mea-sures

a plan or way of doing things /  units showing size or amount


n.措施/v.测量

 

ol-dest

been around for the longest time


adj.最老的

o-ri-gi-nal

the first


adj.原始/原版的

o-ri-gi-nal-ly

in the beginning, at first


adv.本来/原来

pre-vi-ous

before


adj.以前

re-search

looking for knowledge


v.调研

re-search-er

person who searches for knowledge


n.研究员

re-sem-bles

looks similar to


v.类似/相像

shell

the outer part or covering


n.外壳/贝壳

so-ci-e-ty

a social group, organized together


n.社会

ver-sion

which kind of a thing


n.版本