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How the Extinction of Dinosaurs May Have Led to the Creation of Wine

Grapes established a foothold in the world after the dinosaurs were no longer a factor in their environment.
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by  Andrew Taylor
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Andrew Taylor

The extinction of Dinosaurs paved the way for grapes to flourish in the world, a new study reveals.

Research published in the journal Nature Plants, based on the discovery of fossilized grape seeds ranging from 60 to 19 million years old in Colombia, Panama, and Peru, examines the history of the fruit, and how the extinction of dinosaurs helped their survival.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Lisa Fotios
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Lisa Fotios

An asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago and wiped out huge swathes of animals and plants from the face of the planet, CNN reported.

The fossilized grape seeds found by researchers in Colombia, Panama, and Peru all range from 19 million to 60 million years old, CNN reported. This implies that the fruit established a foothold in the world after the dinosaurs were no longer around.

“These are the oldest grapes ever found in this part of the world, and they’re a few million years younger than the oldest ones ever found on the other side of the planet,” said lead study author, Fabiany Herrera, an assistant curator of paleobotany at the Field Museum in Chicago’s Negaunee Integrative Research Center.

“This discovery is important because it shows that after the extinction of the dinosaurs, grapes really started to spread across the world,” Herrera said.

Herrera further explained in the statement that the extinction of dinosaurs caused the forests to reset themselves, which changed the composition of various plants, the Independent reported.


It is hard to study the impact of mass extinction on plants because soft tissues generally do not get preserved as fossils. Seeds, however, often do become fossilized and the recent discovery of several examples has helped the researchers to reveal the history of grapes.

The earliest known fossilized grapes were located in India and dated to around 66 million years ago, during the time dinosaurs disappeared due to the asteroid, CNN reported. This discovery was made by Herrera’s PhD advisor, Steven Manchester. 

The nature of the forests changed when dinosaurs disappeared according to the study. The researchers found that forests in South America became more crowded around the time the world was adjusting to the disappearance of dinosaurs. 

Dinosaurs likely knocked down trees and kept the forests open, the Independent reported. Their absence allowed the forests to become more dense.

This phenomenon benefited climbing plants like grapes, CNN reported. “In the fossil record, we start to see more plants that use vines to climb up trees, like grapes, around this time,” Dr Herrera said.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Dalila Dalprat
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Dalila Dalprat

Grapes were also helped by the fact that birds and mammals had to go through adaptations in the changing world, the Independent reported. The changes aided in the spread of grape seeds.

Herrera's objective for the research was to find other areas where grape fossils existed, CNN reported.

“Grapes have an extensive fossil record that starts about 50 million years ago, so I wanted to discover one in South America, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Herrera said. “I’ve been looking for the oldest grape in the Western Hemisphere since I was an undergrad student.”

Herrera was finally successful when study coauthor, Mónica Carvalho, spotted a fossil during fieldwork in the Colombian Andes in 2022, CNN reported. On analysis, it turned out to be a 60 million-year-old grape seed fossil trapped in rock, one of the first to be found in South America.

The new species was named Lithouva susmanii, or  “Susman’s stone grape,” in honor of Arthur T. Susman, who has been a supporter of South American paleobotany at the Field Museum.

Herrera believes that the discovery provides some enlightening facts about grapes, the Independent reported.

“The fossil record tells us that grapes are a very resilient order. They’re a group that has suffered a lot of extinction in the Central and South American region, but they also managed to adapt and survive in other parts of the world,” he said.

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