Fill 'er up . . . with a few tons of wheat

9:03pm, November 23, 2003

If you think it takes a lot to fill up your vehicle's gas tank, you're right. A new analysis suggests that each gallon of gasoline is derived from an amount of ancient plant matter equivalent to the vegetation in a midsize wheat field.

Most of today's oil started out millions of years ago as tiny aquatic plants called phytoplankton, says Jeffrey S. Dukes, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Stanford, Calif. After those organisms died, the forces of heat, pressure, and time transformed their carbon-based remains into a power-packed fossil fuel.

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