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August 18, 2023

3D CT scan of a fossilized spurge plant

This 3D CT scan of a 52-million-year-old fossilized spurge plant discovered in Argentina shows fruits and the tiny paired seeds inside them. A study suggests that the spurge family's Macaranga-Mallotus clade, encompassing a common ancestor and all its descendants and long considered to have Asian origins, may have first appeared in South America when it was still part of Gondwana -- the supercontinent that encompassed South America, Antarctica and Australia -- before moving around the globe.

[Research supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grants DEB 1556666, DEB 1556136, EAR 1925755 and EAR 1925552.]

Learn more in the Pennsylvania State University news story Spurge purge: Plant fossils reveal ancient South America-to-Asia 'escape route'. (Date of image: 2023; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Aug 18, 2023)

Credit: Peter Wilf/Pennsylvania State University

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