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, Utah Public Radio, and the Mountain West News Bureau! See below:


1. Chili peppers more deeply rooted in Colorado than previously thought. CU Boulder Today (Boulder, USA) - 20/04/2023.

2. Fósiles olvidados de Colombia y Estados Unidos puede reescribir parte de la historia evolutiva de las plantas (Cordoba, Argentina) - 24/04/2023.

3. Fosil puede elevar la línea de tiempo evolutiva (Radio Centro Spain) - 24/04/2023. 

4. How forgotten Colorado fossils may rewrite part of plant evolutionary history / (Douglas, UK) – 20/04/2023.

5. Los fósiles de Colorado podrían revisar la historia de la evolución de las plantas / Deporticos (San José, Costa Rica) – 20/04/2023.

6. Chili Fossil May Rewrite Tomato Family History / Technology Networks (Sudbury, UK) – 21/04/2023.

7. New study uncovers Colorado’s spicy ancient history of chili peppers / EurekAlert (Washington, USA) – 21/04/2023.

8. Descobreixen els pebrots picants més antics del món / Mon Planeta (Barcelona, España) – 24/04/2023.

9. Chili peppers may have existed in North America 50 million years ago / (Telluride, USA) – 24/04/2023.

10. Colorado chili pepper fossil discovery may upend evolutionary timeline / New Atlas (Melbourne, Australia) – 24/04/2023.

11. Chili peppers more deeply rooted in Colorado than previously thought / The Chronicle News (Trinidad, USA) – 24/04/2023.

12. Incredibly Rare Fossil Chilies Reveal They Emerged 50 Million Years Ago / IFLScience (Sudbury, UK) – 24/04/2023.

13. Fossile di peperoncino: avrebbe un’età di 50 milioni di anni / ICrewPlay (Roma, Italy) – 26/04/2023.

14. The origins of chili peppers date back longer than we thought / Axios (Denver, USA) – 28/04/2023.

15. Prehistoric Chili Pepper Fossils Challenge Tomato Plant’s Evolutionary History, Study Says / Science Times (Nueva York, USA) – 30/04/2023.

16. Antik kırmızı biber, domatesin tarihini yeniden yazabilir! / Gidahatti (Ankara, Turkey) – 1/05/2023.

17. An Ancient Chili Pepper May Rewrite The History of The Tomato Plant / ScienceAlert (Canberra, Australia) – 1/05/2023.

18. 50 million-year-old pepper found in Colorado / Popular Science (Nueva York, USA) – 1/05/2023.

19. Un peperoncino fossile potrebbe riscrivere la storia evolutiva di questa famiglia di piante / Focus Tech (Roma, Italy) – 2/05/2023.

20. El fósil de un chile replantea la historia evolutiva de los tomates y los pimientos / Deutsche Welle (Bonn, Germany) – 2/05/2023.

21. The Oldest Chili Pepper Was Found in Colorado—and It’s Around 50 Million Years Old / Sunset Magazine (Los Ángeles, USA) – 5/05/2023.

22. El fósil de un chile olvidado en un museo cambia la historia de los tomates / Wired en español (Mexico city, Mexico) – 8/05/2023.

23. Fossil Chili Pepper Identified As Rooted In Colorado Than Previously Thought / India Education Diary (Nueva Delhi, India) – 9/05/2023.

24. Así es el chile de hace 40 millones de años que acaban de descubrir en Colorado / Tapas Magazine (Madrid, Spain) – 10/05/2023.

25. A 50 Million-Year-Old Fossil Spiced Up What We Knew About Chili Peppers / The Daily Meal (Indianapolis, United States) – 11/05/2023.

26. Geschichte der Chilischote muss neu geschrieben werden / Latina Press (Undenheim, Germany) – 13/05/2023.

27. Chile pepper history has been rewritten by fossils found in Colorado / The Gazette (Colorado Springs, United States) – 13/05/2023.

28. Research Reveals Fiery Past of Chili Peppers / Mirage News (Wollongong, Australia) – 22/05/2023.

29. NM Chile Peppers Likely Millions of Years Older Than Previously Thought / Public News Service (Boulder, United States) – 30/05/2023.

30. Southwest chile peppers likely millions of years older than previously thought / Utah Public Radio (Logan, Unites States) – 2/06/2023.

31. Chili peppers’ evolutionary origins have Colorado flavor, new study shows / Wyoming Public Radio (Laramie, United States) – 7/06/2023.

32. Chili peppers’ evolutionary origins have Colorado flavor, new study shows / KUNR Public Radio (Reno, United States) – 7/06/2023.