The sweet, juicy peaches we love today might have been a popular snack long before modern humans arrived on the scene.
Scientists have found eight well-preserved fossilized peach endocarps, or pits, in southwest China dating back more than two and a half million years. Despite their age, the fossils appear nearly identical to modern peach pits.
The findings, reported last week in Scientific Reports, suggest that peaches evolved through natural selection well before humans domesticated the fruit. It's the first discovery of fossilized peaches, and it sheds new light on the evolutionary history of the fruit, which has not been well understood.
"The peach is an important part of human history, and it's important to understand how it became what it is today," said Peter Wilf, a professor of paleobotany at Penn State and co-author of the article. "If we know the origins of our resources we can make better use of them."