Monday, July 13, 2009

Darwin's mystery explained

The point is that this is pretty much how I think it works for all life forms.

Science Centric
Darwin's mystery explained:
The rapid increase in the fantastic diversity of flowering plants - linked to their rapid conquest of the Earth - was one of the greatest puzzles faced by Charles Darwin. In a letter to Joseph Hooker dated 22 July 1879, he referred to an 'abominable mystery.' The great diversity of fossil flowering plants from the late Cretaceous, while there were virtually no fossils known from the early Cretaceous, appeared to be completely in conflict with his vision that the emergence of new species could only take place very gradually.
. . .
"According to Berendse and Scheffer, we must think in a totally different direction. They postulate that the flowering plants were able to change the world to suit their own needs. They grew more rapidly and therefore required more nutrients. In a world that was poor in nutrients and was entirely dominated by the gymnosperms, that kept the soil poor - with their poorly degradable litter - flowering plants had great difficulties to establish. But at some locations where the gymnosperms had temporarily disappeared, for example due to floods, fires or storms, the angiosperms could increase so that they were capable of improving their own conditions with their easily degradable litter.

According to the theory of Berendse and Scheffer, this led to positive feedback; as a result, the flowering plants could increase even more rapidly and were capable of replacing the angiosperms in much of the world. Ultimately, the improved edibility of the leaves and fruits of the flowering plants led to a tremendous increase in the number of plant eaters on the Earth, which opened the way to the rapid evolution of mammals, and finally to the appearance of humans."

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