One of the most mysterious and surprising sequences of numbers, known as the Fibonacci sequence, is found in the structure of many plants. It is a series of numbers where each number is the sum of the previous two: 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and so on. Most living plants have organs that are arranged at a certain angle relative to the previous organ, creating continuous spirals, the number of which correspond to the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. But how did this amazing sequence develop in plants?
For a long time it was thought that the Fibonacci sequence must have developed in some of the earliest plant species. However, the ancient species Asteroxylon mackiei, one of the first examples of a plant with leaves in the paleontological record, violates this assumption. Its leaves are arranged in such a way that they cannot be described by Fibonacci numbers. This caused difficulties in understanding the origin of this sequence in plants.
But recent research by a team of scientists, including Dr. Sandy Hetherington and Holly-Anne Turner, has provided more insight into this mystery. The researchers used 3D-printed fossils of Asteroxylon mackiei to better study the arrangement of its unusual leaves. The results showed that Asteroxylon mackiei had spiral patterns other than Fibonacci.
This new evidence suggests that modern plants may have developed spiral patterns consistent with the Fibonacci sequence throughout their evolution. This may indicate that the evolution of leaves in Asteroxylon mackiei and other early species of Plaunas may be evolutionarily distinct from other plant groups.
This discovery is important for understanding plant evolution and the origin of the Fibonacci sequence. It also highlights the importance of using new technologies, such as 3D printing, in fossil studies. Thanks to these technologies, scientists can obtain new and unique data that were previously unavailable.