Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China

Tao Su, Peter Wilf, Yongjiang Huang, Shitao Zhang, Zhekun Zhou

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30 Scopus citations


Peach (Prunus persica, Rosaceae) is an extremely popular tree fruit worldwide, with an annual production near 20 million tons. Peach is widely thought to have origins in China, but its evolutionary history is largely unknown. The oldest evidence for the peach has been Chinese archaeological records dating to 8000-7000 BP. Here, we report eight fossil peach endocarps from late Pliocene strata of Kunming City, Yunnan, southwestern China. The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows. These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16794
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Nov 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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