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Nightshades evolved much earlier than thought

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fossil groundcherry, 52 mya/Ignacio Escapa, Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio

From ScienceDaily:

Delicate fossil remains of tomatillos found in Patagonia, Argentina, show that this branch of the economically important family that also includes potatoes, peppers, tobacco, petunias and tomatoes existed 52 million years ago, long before the dates previously ascribed to these species, according to an international team of scientists.

“Paleobotanical discoveries in Patagonia are probably destined to revolutionize some traditional views on the origin and evolution of the plant kingdom,” said N. Rubén Cúneo, CONICET, Museo Palentológico Egidio Feruglio. Paper. (paywall) – Peter Wilf, Mónica R. Carvalho, María A. Gandolfo, N. Rubén Cúneo. Eocene lantern fruits from Gondwanan Patagonia and the early origins of Solanaceae. Science, 2017; 355 (6320): 71 DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2737 More.

See also: Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen (or anyway not as much as we think). Everything old is still older.

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