Scientists find new plant species from 15-mln-year-old fossils

NANJING, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) — Paleontologists from China and the United States have found a new species of Choerospondias from fossils dating back 15 million years in southeast China’s Fujian Province.

The new species is named as Choerospondias fujianensis sp. nov., which researchers said features five or seven radially arranged germination pores at the subapical region of the endocarp, different from today’s Choerospondias which normally has three to six germination pores.

Choerospondias, commonly known in English as Nepali hog plum, is mainly found in the subtropics and tropics of East Asia, including the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Yunnan. Its sweet-and-sour fruits are commonly made into pickles, juices and desserts.

The fossils indicate that Choerospondias was more diverse in the Miocene epoch than today, according to the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences,

Wang Zixi, a research assistant from the institute who participated in the study, said choerospondias was once widely distributed in Eurasia 20 million years ago, but now it has become a unique plant in East Asia.

“The research shows that although choerospondias disappeared in Europe a long time ago, it is likely to have survived in south China to this day,” Wang said.

The finding has been published in the international journal Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.

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