Plant Evolution Has Much Complexity In It’s Story

Progress on empirical facts, whether from molecular biology or fossils have blurred the picture of evolution quite considerably.  Jonathan P. Wilson (Caltech) in  Science reviews the book, which shows precisely that point.

  • However, the molecular phylogenetics revolution, new fossil discoveries, and reinterpretations of existing material have catapulted our understanding of plant evolution ahead, leaving behind hypotheses and interpretations that were as good as fact a mere ten years ago.
  • Any book that includes two major thematic axes—increasing evolutionary diversity and complexity on one hand, and time on the other—faces a formidable organizational challenge.
  • Many environmental events simultaneously affect disparate taxonomic groups, whereas evolutionary innovations may lead to within-group specializations that deserve to be discussed separately.
  • Simply treating events stratigraphically risks giving short shrift to evolutionary trends…
  • However, a temporal framework makes it easier to portray the effects of large changes in climate and patterns of major adaptive radiations, such as the explosive diversifications of polypodiaceous ferns in tandem with angiosperm trees during the Late Cretaceous and Early Paleogene.
  • They give orphaned organ taxa (particularly foliage and seeds) individual chapters, in which they note tentative or speculative associations with other fossil groups.
  • Furthermore, the demise of the anthophyte hypothesis (which linked angiosperms to the living seed plants Gnetum, Ephedra, and Welwitschia) has left a vacuum that could be crippling to a book focused on the evolution of plants.
  • Their new edition has caught up with recent discoveries and the progress of thoughts about plant evolution.  It points the way toward the most promising avenues for future research.

Not surprising, this speculation about how plants evolved has been basically swept away by new discoveries and the answers are believed to be somewhere in the future. One would think history could repeat itself and the answers to questions will be pushed further into the future. This in turn gives hope that their theory will actually mean something as far as trying to explain evolution with empirical data.

Plant evolution assumes miracles no question about it. It also redefines the meaning of facts. Wilson spoke of new discoveries that were “leaving behind hypotheses and interpretations that were as good as fact a mere ten years ago.” Just when you think facts are facts which never change but not in the hypothesis of evolution. Treating facts as speculation is redefining the meaning.

Think about this,  ten years ago these same scientists were telling the public “we know now” and then claiming this knowledge is advancing with these new answers only to find new discoveries falsified those things.  Is plant evolution really making any progress? After reading the book review, nothing was presented, only a promise that answers will come in the future. This embarrassing falsification was turned into a vindication by Wilson:

“By opening the door to a diversity of ideas, the authors turned what could have been a gaping void into an agenda for many a lab meeting or conference session.” A wise man once said, evolution fills one hole only to have five more holes open as a result, the cycle is endless.


2 thoughts on “Plant Evolution Has Much Complexity In It’s Story

  1. Still playing the third-hand theme, eh? From the book to a reviewer’s opinion of the book to the ICR’s perversion of the review.

    To begin with, you should know that the evolution of plants has taken a back seat to animal evolution, mostly because of less evidence from fewer fossils. The advent of molecular techniques has filled in many lacunae in the evidence over a short period of time.

    Apparently Michael has still not learned the differences between religion and science. Religion must select, distort, or outright deny new evidence that contradicts preconceived beliefs. Science, on the other hand, extends, modifies, or even overthrows hypotheses when new evidence appears. That is, belief is the polestar for religion, while evidence is the guidon of science.

    Of the eight bulleted points in this post, most have nothing to do with any possible modifications of even any details of evolutionary theory. They concern how the book itself is organized, i.e. the way in which the material is presented (#2-6), and praise for being up-to-date (#8). The other two points discuss changes in evolutionary thinking from new evidence: some seemingly well-confirmed hypotheses are in danger or even falsified by new evidence (#1, 7).

    The first of your bulleted points bears discussion. Michael concentrates on the portion “leaving behind hypotheses and interpretations that were as good as fact a mere ten years ago.” See, he exults, something that scientists considered facts are not facts. But the thrust of this paragraph actually is that the new discoveries “have catapulted our understanding of plant evolution ahead.” Blinkered by belief, Michael sees only the dead trees of failed hypotheses, and not the luxuriant forest of new research leading to even stronger evolutionary theories.

    So interpreting this book as evidence against evolution in general is purely an act of desperation. It is yet another reason “why people laugh at creationists,” in Thunderf00t’s words.

  2. “A wise man once said, evolution fills one hole only to have five more holes open as a result, the cycle is endless.”

    Care to name this wise man ? And who cares what he said ? Think for yourself for a change, Michael !

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