After an archeological discovery was made while the construction of a main road was underway in Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province, researchers have come to the stunning conclusion that fossilized peach pits from 2.5 million years ago have been found.
The most intriguing part of this discovery was that even if the pits were extremely old, dating back to a time before man had domesticated the fruit or even resided in the Chinese region, they are not that different from their current generation relatives.
The rock layer in which they were found ranges from 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, known as the Pliocene epoch. The pits were discovered back in 2010 and they were subjected to carbon dating processes which measure the amount of decay which carbon-14 was subjected to. Unfortunately, this process can only identify a date as far as 50.000 while the readings concerning the pits were way above that level.
By cracking open the pits themselves and observing the seeds inside of it, scientists were able to further prove the advanced age of the fossil. As time passes the shell of the pit as well as the seeds which it contains goes through various changes. The shell crystallizes again and again while the insides slowly turn to iron.
This discovery proves that peaches have originated on Chinese soil even more, adding to the original discovery of such fossilized pits in the 1970s, but those fossils were only seven to eight thousand years old.
Peaches have evolved through both natural selection and our process of domesticating them in order to benefit from their fruits. Even so, they have more or less changed throughout the years. The possibility that the natural evolutionary process stopped when humans began to meddle in the peach growing process, modifying its habitat and growth patterns, is more or less likely.
Because of its composition and general tasty-ness, the peach fruit was an extremely popular food source for primates and extinct evolutionary steps of man, like the Homo Erectus.
Unfortunately, researchers and scientists will not be able to reconstruct the whole plant along with its fruit just by studying the pit itself, urging their quest to find fossilized branches or leaves of said tree. Even if the pit looks more or less like the ones we have today, researchers have come to an agreement concerning its name, modifying the Prunus Persica into Prunus Kunmingensis, because the look of the plant is still unknown.
Bu the fact that fossilized peach pits from 2.5 million years ago have been found still remains, marking the first steps towards understanding the exact evolutionary processes and steps which fruits have made throughout the millennia in order to become what we know and love today.