Monday, 10 August 2009

The Evolution of Flowers

I've never really though much about the evolution of flowers though it is one of those topics I could dive into and dig about in for years.  I was sitting in a swanky box at the O2 - the ones with catering and bartenders and perfect view alongside some still-employed corporate types.  It was kind of a hall of fame of credit crunch companies along the corridor with Morgan Stanley & Lehman Brothers close to the not-to-be-mentioned credit crunch box I was a guest of.  I must say, the company Director who invited us had insisted on paying the catering bill out of his own pocket rather than putting it on the company tab which I thought most admirable.  I mean really. We were not actually networking, we were watching "Walking with Dinosaurs" with our children in tow.

I had not been expecting much from the show and was pleasantly surprised by the marriage of animatronic spectacle with a sneaky science class lesson.  It was certainly beyond pantomime donkey and makes me think my own childhood was fairly rubbish in comparison.  These were life-sized dinosaurs, walking, winking, muscles tensing, roaring roaming about whilst a paleontologist fellow leapt about between them speaking about the evolution of dinosaurs and the changes on planet earth.  When the air-filled pop-up flowers bloomed all over the stage, I nearly fainted with delight.  We were in the mid-cretaceous period at that point and Mr. Paleontologist slipped in a comment about the world having no flowers until that moment.

I had never pondered a world without flowers.  And I'd never really thought about the evolution of reproduction.  Actually, I had thought deeply about it when I gave birth and thought human females hadn't quite evolved properly yet.  I remember thinking it would be better if we could just pop out an egg.  But I digress.  

Imagine.  A world without flowers.  Then, they began to appear.  I'm guessing it all happened so slowly that it was not one of those mind-blowing changes.  The scientists do seem to say it was quite a rapid environmental change but I think they mean scientist-rapid, not human-observation rapid.  And we were not there then anyway.

Changes we can view in rapid real-time is something our civilization is accustomed to.  The computer has crept into almost every aspect of our lives and the changes it has brought, whether animatronics or world-financial trading have been immense as one considers there was actually a time when computers did not exist.  So.  What happens when the man-made rate of change accelerates past the natural world's rate of change?  What then drives what?  We've just wandered into a Philip K. Dick novel.

Ok.  Jump Out.  Let's go back and read a bit about the evolution of flowers.  Many scientists from many countries have laid claim to having the world's first flower.  Here is an one such claim from China.

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