New York, Dec 2 (IANS) The sweet, juicy peaches we love today might have been a popular snack long before modern humans arrived on the scene, researchers said.
Scientists found eight well-preserved fossilised peach endocarps, or pits, in southwest China dating back over two and a half million years.
Despite their age, the fossils appear nearly identical to modern peach pits.
Animals, perhaps even primates, and eventually early hominids, snacked on and dispersed the sweet, wild fruit and played a key role in its evolution.
“The peach is an important part of human history and it’s important to understand how it became what it is today,” said study co-author Peter Wilf, professor of paleobotany at Pennsylvania State University in a statement.
The fossils were discovered by lead author Tao Su at Xishuangbanna Tropical Garden near his home in Kunming in China.
Su said the discovery provides important new evidence for the origins and evolution of the modern fruit.
The discovery supports China being the home of the peach fruit.
The fruit remains culturally significant in the country, where it carries multiple meanings — from immortality in Taoist mythology to good fortune and beauty.
Several tests confirmed that the fossils are indeed more than 2.5 million years old and not from recent contamination.