The fig genus (Ficus, Moraceae) is one of the largest woody plant genera in the world. There are about 750 species in total and about 500 of them are distributed in Asia and Australia. Their leaf architectures differ from each other and are highly phylogenetically correlated. Therefore, a fossil Ficus species can be identified to a certain subgenus using leaf architecture.
Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) discovered fossil leaves of Ficus in the early to middle Miocene strata in Wenshan, Yunnan, southwestern China, which is the core of the southwestern China karst region.
After herbarium specimens studies and comprehensive comparison with extant species, the researchers confirmed that the intact fossil leaves are new to science and named the fossil as Ficus microtrivia J. Huang et Z. K. Zhou sp. nov. (Moraceae).