Picture of the Day

Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere

One of the world's most important plant families has a history extending much farther south than any live or fossil specimen previously recorded, as shown by chinquapin fruit and leaf fossils unearthed in Patagonia, Argentina, according to researchers. Common in the Northern Hemisphere and Asian tropics, Fagaceae -- a plant family which includes chestnuts and the closely related chinquapins -- cross the equator only in Southeast Asia, and even there just barely. The latest study extends the family's biogeographical history and suggests a Gondwanan supercontinent legacy in Asian rainforests larger than previously thought. Shown here: Discovery photo of the mature Castanopsis fruiting spike fossil with four nuts enclosed in scaly cupules, showing the part and counterpart on the split surface at Laguna del Hunco.

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