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Some plants are higher on the food chain than some animals.

Wallydraigle

Banned
Nov 27, 2000
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Roughly 400-500 million years ago a group of protists called the Chlorobionts (multicellular green algae) gave rise to the first land plants. For the next 350 million years or so the plants exploded into growth covering the entire earth, but with relatively few varieties. At first they were held back by their need for constant contact with water to avoid desication. The first plants had no vascular structure so they could not transport water from one part to another. All parts had to be constantly moist, or die.

Relatively quickly the first vascular plants evolved. These small fern-like plants still needed an environment that stayed moist all the time because they had no active way to transfer their sperm cells to their egg cells. The sperm swam through the moisture to find the eggs. A very inefficient system which kept the plants bound to a perpetually moist habitat and didn't lend well to the formation of species. The plants grew larger and larger, giving rise to the tree ferns and giant horsetails of the Mesozoic era, but there just wasn't a whole lot of variety. Not many evolutionary avenues could be exploited. The Kingdom Plantae was being held back.

Then toward the end of the Cretaceous, less than 100 million years ago, one of the most amazing acts of evolutionary genius occured; the first flowers developed.

Flowers gave the early plants just the boost they needed to branch out and try new things. Flowers gave the plants the active fertilization scheme they needed to leave their moist prisons behind. No longer did plants have to cast billions of spores randomly to the wind to ensure their survival. By means of their flowers plants could develope relatively few seeds prepackaged with the food they need to begin their live, but more importantly a growth strategy. Flowers produce their seeds in fruits that are attractive to animals for food. Animals eat the fruits and pass the seeds. The young plants begin their lives in the same places where the animals they depend on live because they were planted by those animals!

As new kinds of flowers developed, new animals evolved to polinate them. As new animals evolved, new kinds of flowers evolved to exploit the new animals. Larger animals evolved to feed on those animals. It's no accident that the expolsion of the flower, insect, and the mammal species occured nearly simultaneously. The result was a self-continuing species explosion!

The flowering plants account for 99.5% of all the plant species that have ever lived on planet earth, and they all developed in very recent evolutionary history. Flowering plants are found in nearly all habitats on earth. Some have even returned to the sea, living completely aquatic lives there. Today there is so much variety among the plants, and so many evolutionary avenues are being explored, that some plants are higher on the food chain than some animals. That's amazing! In a few million years is it possible that the plants may give us a run for our money? Imagine a society of photoautotrophs needing nothing more than light and non-organic CO2 to produce energy. What couldn't a society accomplish once it was free from obtaining food?

Discuss.
 

bradruth

Lifer
Aug 9, 2002
13,479
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That's a lot of words about plants...especially considering I'm writing a paper on the UNAMA. :confused:
 

beer

Lifer
Jun 27, 2000
11,169
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Heretic! Clearly Man came first and everything else on earth is meant to support him. Don't you read the bible???
 

axelfox

Diamond Member
Oct 13, 1999
6,721
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There's an episode of The Simpsons where they show the food chain and all the arrows point to the human.
 

Yossarian

Lifer
Dec 26, 2000
18,010
1
81
damn I was hoping for a nice lirion pic of a giant venus flytrap devouring a baby or something.
 

Wallydraigle

Banned
Nov 27, 2000
10,754
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Originally posted by: ReiAyanami
yeah how did carnivorous plants come about

soylent green... mmmmmm

In in areas with especially low levels of nitrogen compounds in the soil, plants have a hard time growing. Some plants developed the ability to absorb nitrogen compounds from debris on their leafs. These plants competed favorably with the other plants which lacked this ability, and their offspring were naturally selected to develop this trait further. Some of the plants developed cupped leaves which held rainwater, in which tiny insects drowned and mosquitoes laid their eggs. Over the years the leaves were further modified into the pitcher plants we see today.

Similar evolutionary vectors gave rise to the other carnivorous plant varieties. Hairs became more and more sticky. Traps develop. All it takes is time and an environmental pressure like a lack of nitrogen.

 

silverpig

Lifer
Jul 29, 2001
27,708
9
81
Originally posted by: axelfox
There's an episode of The Simpsons where they show the food chain and all the arrows point to the human.
It's funny cause they have a picture of a bat with the arrow pointing towards the human too :)
 

PowerMacG5

Diamond Member
Apr 14, 2002
7,701
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I thought everyone was a photoautotroph. Oh well, back to photosynthesizing I go. Mmmhhhh glucose.
 

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