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The early bird gets the fruit: Fossil provides earliest evidence of fruit-eating by any animal


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Hundreds of animals eat fruit, from toucans to fruit bats to maned wolves to humans. But most fruit-bearing plants evolved relatively recently in Earth's history, showing up for the first time in the Cretaceous, the final period of the dinosaurs. In a new paper in eLife, scientists have tracked down the first fossil evidence of fruit consumption by comparing the skull shapes and stomach contents of fossil birds. The verdict: the earliest-known fruit-eater was an early bird called Jeholornis that lived 120 million years ago, and it may have helped contribute to the spread of the plants that dominate the world today.

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