A 407-million-year-old plant’s leaves skipped the usual Fibonacci spirals

The ancient leaves were arranged in spiral patterns uncommon in modern land plants

An image of a digital reconstruction of an Asteroxylon mackiei plant.

Digital reconstructions (one shown) of Asteroxylon mackiei plants are providing new insights into the evolution of leaf patterns.

Matt Humpage, Northern Rogue Studios

An unusual arrangement of leaves in a 407-million-year-old fossilized plant is complicating scientists’ understanding of plant evolution.

Most land plants living today have spiral patterns involving the famous Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Because the spirals are so common, scientists have thought that the patterns must have evolved in some of the earliest land plants.