The pomegranate fruit has been cultivated since ancient times, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It has a hard outer rind, and inside are several chambers, each of which contains a multitude of seed pods, consisting of a single hard seed wrapped in a protective cushion of liquid.

Take every detail of that description, make it a bit smaller, a bit softer, and a whole lot more edible, and what you've got is the exact description of the tomato fruit. One could certainly be forgiven for assuming that they were genetically related, but if you look at the phylogeny of the two plants, you see that that hypothesis could hardly be more wrong--not to mention the minor little detail of tomatoes being native to the Americas, literally on the other side of the world from the pomegranate's home!

So what's going on here?


closed as primarily opinion-based by canadianer, rg255, WYSIWYG Jul 23 '15 at 20:02

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Would the downvoter care to comment? $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 23 '15 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry about it. it seems like some high-level botanist should be able to answer $\endgroup$ – aaaaaa Jul 23 '15 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ Species evolve similar features in isolation - wings have evolved on multiple occasions for example. Besides that it seems your question is looking for some grand meaning behind their similarity, and is not a good fit for Bio SE. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jul 23 '15 at 17:30

So what's going on here?

Personally speaking, I don't think the tomato is anything like the pomegranate. However, generally speaking the appearance of similar traits despite widely divergent ancestry is called Convergent Evolution. Some traits -- let's say round fruit and red coloring -- may be so advantageous that they evolved multiple different times throughout history.

Take wings, for another example. Wings have evolved in insects, avians (obviously), and mammals. The last common ancestor (often shortened to "LCA") is billions of years back, but wings persist.

So, the real answer is not quite "by chance," but closer to "because they're very good traits to have."

  • $\begingroup$ We might also consider the effects of human selection: there are certainly similarities in the plants we choose to domesticate, and the traits in those plants that we select for. $\endgroup$ – Oreotrephes Jul 23 '15 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Why do bats look a lot like birds? Or hawk moths/hummingbirds, dolphins/ichthyosaurs, and many more. Also, I wouldn't say that wings "persist", as the LCA didn't have them. It's rather that they evolved independently, and the similarities are a result of aerodynamics determining that there are only so many ways to make a good wing. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 23 '15 at 18:34

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