A new study shows that fossilized peach pits were discovered in China. Professor Tao Su, from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, found the peach endocarps, also known as pits when a road construction near his house unveiled a rock layer from the Pliocene era.
The eight peach pits dated at 2.5 million years ago show that the fruit preceded the presence of humans in the southwest region of China. As the Pliocene epoch stretches from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years, tests had to be made at the Penn University to establish the age of the fossils. Carbon dating of the organic remains proved that the pits dated beyond 50,000 years, which is beyond the range of radiocarbon dating.
Professor Wilf at the Penn University scanned the fossils and noticed that seeds inside the pits were replaced by iron oxides and the walls have been recrystallized which is another proof that the peach pits found in China were old.
Both Wilf and Su came to the conclusion that the fruits had 5 centimeters in diameter, the size of the smallest peach we would find on supermarket shelves today.
Comparing the present fruit pits and the fossilized one, they believe that the fruit developed through natural selection and human domestication. This study was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports this November.
Peaches were a good source of food for early primates and also for our ancestors, like Homo Erectus and early Homo Sapiens which might have helped spread the seeds of this fruit through feces, researchers state.
Prunus kunmingensis, the new species name that was given to the fruit fossils, is thought to be native in China and historical findings show that is was cultivated there for centuries. Peaches were also mentioned in Book of Songs, the oldest known poetry book. Also peach proofs have been found in the 1970 in Hemudu village at a Neolithic settlement discovery and were proved to be 8,000 years old.
This famous fruit adapted to the changes in environment and human actions and we also adapted to it, professor Wilf said in statement. He also believes that must have been delicious.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org