Fossil Friday: Fruits

By Matt Borths, Curator of the Duke Lemur Center’s Division of Fossil Primates.

Many of our lemurs love the chance to savor a chunk of ripe fruit, and you probably love a crispy apple or juicy strawberry when you can find one.

Loving fruit is something that unites us as primates, and the fossil record of primates is full animals with teeth that were perfect for mashing fruit pulp. Sometimes we even find fossils of the fruit our ancient primate relatives might have munched!

These black, scaly blobs are 32-million-year-old fossil fruits (genus Epipremnum) that were found in Egypt, alongside fossils like Aegyptopithecus, an ancient relative of monkeys and apes. The pattern on the outside of the fossil were the juicy berries that surrounded a giant seed. By studying the diversity of fossil plants like these, paleobotanists can piece together the ancient forests that shaped primate history through time!