Published: May 15, 2023



This month our Solanaceae fruit fossil paper finally came out in New Phytologist!  The paper, led by Rocio with a huge team of co-authors including Abel and Stacey, describes two new fruit fossils -- one from the chilipepper tribe (Capsiceae) from Colorado and another from the tomatillo tribe (Physalideae) from Colombia.  These two fossils join two previously described Physalis from Patagonia, and all are Eocence fossils (ca. 50 million years old).  This paints a new picture of the family -- where we previously thought it was young and South American in origin, it now appears to be widespread long ago and the origin is uncertain. With similarly old fossils in North and South America, Solanaceae could have arisen in either continent, and of course who knows what we may find someday in Australia or Asia!

The fossil chilipepper story was featured in CU Today and has since been picked up by a number of media outlets, including the Denver Gazette, New Mexico Public Radio, and CBC News in Canada!