You've seen them in cube form. You've seen them made into whimsical fruit baskets. You may have even seen one turned into a keg. But we bet you didn't know what watermelons used to look like — and they weren't too pretty.
Vox surfaced a 17th-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi that shows the rather odd-looking ancestor of the watermelon we know and love today. Take a look:
We think it kind of looks like a squash. However strange in appearance, horticulture professor Jim Nienhuis says that the melon probably tasted fine, pointing out that melons were often eaten fresh or turned into wine during the time period of this painting.
So, what changed? Centuries of breeding changed the shape, flesh color, and seed content within watermelons. During this process, this early ancestor isn't the only variety of melon lost to the ages. In a 1949 study on watermelon breeding published in the scintillating-sounding journal Economic Botany, G.K. Parris wrote that "Most of the varieties 40 to 50 years ago have disappeared, such as McIver, Phinney's Early, Kolb Gem, Duke Jones, Ruby Gem, Green and Gold, Mountain Sprout, Mammouth Ironclad, Ruby Gold, Sugarloaf and Cole's Early."
While we can see why something with the name "Mountain Sprout" hasn't endured, aren't you curious about Ruby Gem or Sugarloaf?
Learn more about the history of watermelons over at Vox »