The study of a set of fossils of plants attributed to a species endemic to the island of Madeira, Melanoselinum decipiens, was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal TAXON of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy. Despite the common name of this plant is celery, it is known, through molecular studies, that it belongs to the group of carrots, which evolved into an island woody habit, becoming a giant carrot. This study reveals the presence of carrot plants with giant stems and leaves 1.3 million years ago on the island of Madeira. It is the oldest carrot fossil currently known worldwide and the first time that a plant fossil with evolution to island gigantism has been described.
The study was developed by Carlos A. Góis-Marques, Ph.D. student at the Departmento de Geologia da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (FCUL) with supervision of the professor of the FCUL and researcher of the Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL), José Madeira, in colaboration with researchers of the Universidad de La Laguna, Madeira Botanical Group of the Universidade da Madeira, and CIBIO InBIO.
This publication was widely publicized in the media. Here are some links to news about this work: