Dinosaur Food: 100 million year old foods we still eat today
January 17, 2022
I just finished Oliver Sacks’ excellent Everything in Its Place. In it, he mentioned as an aside that the Ginkgo biloba tree is hundreds of millions of years old, and its phenotype has been practically frozen since then – a living fossil.
Of course, this is the same tree that grows ぎんなん (Ginkgo nuts), an East Asian delicacy found in many dishes, 茶碗蒸し (Chawanmushi) for example.
Ginkgo has been around so long, it predates the dinosaurs! And we still eat it! How cool is that. This got me thinking – what are the oldest foods we consume today?
- Must be edible by humans
- Must be morphologically unchanged since its fossil age
|Photo||Kingdom||Species||Common name||Age (years)|
|Animalia||Tachypleus tridentatus||Horseshoe crab||480M|
|Plantae||Ginkgo biloba||Maidenhair nuts||290M|
|Plantae||Cladonia rangiferina||Reindeer lichen||250M?|
|Plantae||Cycas revoluta||Sago palm||200M|
|Plantae||Araucaria araucana||Monkey puzzle tree nuts||160M|
|Plantae||Osmundastrum cinnamomeum||Cinnamon fern||70M|
|Plantae||Trapa natans||Water caltrop nuts||66M|
|Plantae||Nelumbo lutea, Nelumbo nucifera||Lotus||65M+|
Note: I’m a hobbyist, and not a paleobotanist. Additions and edits are welcome, if I misclassified or missed anything.