" We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." - Dissent from Darwin

Natural selection [is used] carelessly as a mantra, as in the evidence-free “just-so stories” concocted out of thin air by mentally lazy adaptationists. (Stephen Jay Gould)

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence. (Isaac newton)

Friday, April 27, 2007

How FLOWER got her gown

The varying shapes of flowers found in tropical forests, from broadly blooming to delicately narrow, may have to do with what has stuck its nose in there to pollinate in past evolutionary eras.
Different species of birds and bats may have encouraged flowers to evolve to fit the shape of their snouts or beaks, new findings suggest.
Flowers seem to respond to whatever is available and doing the best job of spreading pollen, said study leader Nathan Muchhala, a University of Miami biologist. Birds and bats have also changed their body shapes over time to adapt to available food sources and flower and plant shapes, but flowers have done so more aggressively, he said.

"Basically, the flowers are making an evolutionary decision," he told LiveScience. "Organisms can specialize in something (like having wide or narrow openings), but they have to make the tradeoff to be good at one or the other. This is a common misconception—that is, that each flower has its bat/bird specialist, and they are tightly interdependent, the one exception is a bat with an extremely long tongue (140 percent of body length!) from Ecuador—a flower with a matching tube length is exclusively specialized to this bat," he said.

Storyteller: Nathan Muchhala, a University of Miami biologist.

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