The Discovery Of This Tomatillo Fossil Just Threw Scientists A Major Curve Ball

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Tomatillos are the Pokémon of the the fruit world. They’re adorable; they have a costume, that little thin husk they always wear; they have a special power, which is being delicious; and they can evolve into amazing new forms, like salsa verde. Even their name, tomatillo, sounds like a Pokémon.

But despite their cute, youthful appearance, tomatillo fossils that date back 52 million years were recently discovered in the Patagonia region of South America.


After careful scrutiny of the fruit’s characteristics, scientists were able to determine that the fossil find was a previously unknown species of tomatillo. The discovery of this new fossil has completely changed scientists’ understanding of the tomatillo timeline, which placed the rise of tomatillos at around 10 million years ago, and that of the nightshade family, which the tomatillos belong to, anywhere from 30 to 50 million years ago. These 52-million-year-old fossils mean that the tomatillo was most likely around when dinosaurs walked the Earth. No word on whether or not an abuela T-rex ever figured out a great salsa verde recipe.

Scientists were understandably excited about the tomatillo find.


Of the fossil finding, paleontologist Peter Wilf told Science, “This is like an impossible fossil. That you could preserve something this delicate — this little papery structure. It’s unheard of.” The team that discovered the tomatillo have named it Physalis infinemundi, which in Latin means, “at the end of the world.”

[h/t] Tomatillo fossil is oldest nightshade plant


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