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  Plants The sixth sense
From: "brian williams" pugturd50 at hotmail.com> on 2002.01.31 at 09:17:59(8108)
Well, I have been around plants my whole life and have been paying a lot
of attention to how they grow. I am sure some of you have theories on this
sixth sense they seem to have. I would like to hear what collectors and
botanist think. Here are some of the thinks I am talking about.

The plant monstera deliciosa I have planted in a large pot with a totem.
Well, I decided to fertilize the two plants beside it for no real reason
some slow release fertilize. after about 3 to 4 weeks monstera had shoot two
roots in to both pots directly on to the fertilize. Now how the heck did it
know it was there?

I have noticed root go all across the floor to get to water as well as roots
reaching out to grab wall that are a foot away. The seem no to be growing
blindly as some would think. Any one know where there eyes are?

Not to mention orchids and other plants impersonating other creatures in
order to have them pollinate there flowers. A lot say evolution with the
plant and insects that's hard for me to buy. Any ways how did the plant find
out what the insect looked like and its colors? But I would he interested in
hearing what you all thing about this.

My poor father on the other hand seems to bring aliens into the picture if
its unexplainable. Its a little scary but what's ever scarier is when other
plant nuts agree and understand him LOL.

Well, I am sure there are other strange things that all plants do but it
just seems there is some kind of extras sense we don't know about? Love you
hear the crazy theories.

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From: Krzysztof Kozminski kk at kozminski.com> on 2002.01.31 at 14:23:10(8111)
On Thu, 31 Jan 2002, brian williams wrote:

> Not to mention orchids and other plants impersonating other creatures in
> order to have them pollinate there flowers. A lot say evolution with the
> plant and insects that's hard for me to buy. Any ways how did the plant find
> out what the insect looked like and its colors?

This one is easy. Evolutions in nature is passive and cruel; the plants
find things out by either propagating themselves or dying with no progeny.

Plants produce slightly differing flowers all the time. The ones looking
more attractive to the pollinators set more seed, the ones looking ugly
(to the pollinators), do not. Eventually the ugly ones die out.

Roots may be able to seek water by growing by sensing higher humidity, and
growing in that direction (evolution took care of those who tried to grow
them elsewhere). I may be wrong here...

KK

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2002.01.31 at 19:56:18(8113)
In a message dated Thu, 31 Jan 2002 12:18:35 PM Eastern Standard Time, "brian williams" writes:

> Well, I have been around plants my whole life and have been paying a lot
> of attention to how they grow. I am sure some of you have theories on this
> sixth sense they seem to have.

"Sixth" sense? So what are a plant's other 5 senses?

> The plant monstera deliciosa I have planted in a large pot with a totem.
> Well, I decided to fertilize the two plants beside it for no real reason
> some slow release fertilize. after about 3 to 4 weeks monstera had shoot two
> roots in to both pots directly on to the fertilize. Now how the heck did it
> know it was there?
>

Probably chemical particles in the air. Plant roots are designed to seek out nutrient particles in the soil, so detecting similar particles in the air is but a small step.

> I have noticed root go all across the floor to get to water as well as roots
> reaching out to grab wall that are a foot away. The seem no to be growing
> blindly as some would think. Any one know where there eyes are?
>
Chloroplasts. How else would plants "know" which way to turn toward the sun? Seeking darkness is common in the seedling stages of many climbing aroids.

> Not to mention orchids and other plants impersonating other creatures in
> order to have them pollinate there flowers. A lot say evolution with the
> plant and insects that's hard for me to buy. Any ways how did the plant find
> out what the insect looked like and its colors?

It didn't have to, any more than a lichen-mimic moth needs to know it looks like lichen. In the case of the moth, start with a population of variously-colored moths who instinctively rest on lichen-covered tree trunks; then, those who happen to look most like lichens would be the survivors. In the case of the plant, the same general principle operates.
>
Jason Hernandez

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From: Paul Tyerman ptyerman at ozemail.com.au> on 2002.01.31 at 19:56:28(8114)
Howdy All,

It's interesting seeing someone else writing about this as it has been
something that intrigued me for a long time.

My particular thing that stood out is that certain vines have tiny yellow
nodules on their stems, that mimic the eggs of their main predator. They
are the right size, shape and colour. The predator comes along, sees these
eggs and thinks that its brethren has already been there and therefore they
do not lay their own eggs there.

My thoughts on that were..... I know that the fittest survive and therefore
go on to reproduce, but the natural chances of a particular vine producing
nodules that mimic the eggs of their only predator is phenomenally small.
There has to be some way that they register the presence of these eggs and
more importantly their COLOUR. Nodules occuring naturally on a wine is
"relatively" possible I suppose, but then colouring the same colour and
shade as the eggs? How is this explained? I cannot see any other
explanation than that they have some method of sensing their surroundings
in a far more thorough method than we realise, including colours.

Certainly is something to think about.

Cheers.

Paul Tyerman

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From: Alektra at aol.com on 2002.02.01 at 06:59:31(8115)
Selective breeding is incredibly detailed.

There is a crab in Japan which has the design of a very detailed medieval
Japanese helmet on its back. It is known that fishermen habitually threw back
the crabs with helmet-like markings. As time went on, the fishermen got more
picky, because more and more of the crabs started to have more and more
detailed helmet designs. Eventually the design became startlingly detailed.

So, there was natural selection for nodules, and then there was natural
selection for yellow nodules-- or perhaps by chance, there was a plant with
yellow nodules that survived, thrived, and multiplied.

Natural selection is every bit as tough as a plantsman who culls his
seedlings.

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From: Krzysztof Kozminski kk at kozminski.com> on 2002.02.01 at 07:01:53(8116)
On Thu, 31 Jan 2002, Paul Tyerman wrote:

> My particular thing that stood out is that certain vines have tiny yellow
> nodules on their stems, that mimic the eggs of their main predator.
[...]>

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From: Paul Tyerman ptyerman at ozemail.com.au> on 2002.02.01 at 07:02:06(8117)
>
>The ones with nodules of wrong color/shape got eaten by the predators
>before they managed to set seed, and aren't seen much any more....
>
>KK

Howdy KK,

I realise that should be the way it works, but why sprout those nodules in
the first place? If they do sprout them, why colour them differently to
the stem? Allowing for this all to be entirely coincidental it must mean
that just about every possible variation of a plant has existed at some
point in time to be able to reproduce itself.

I think it is highly unlikely that ANY permutation of an Amorphophallus
(for example) is going to head in the direction of looking like the fly
that pollinates it, regardless of how many million years you leave it. So
why does a particular orchid look so much like it's pollinator to the point
that you can mistakenly at a first glance think that it is a wasp sitting
on the flower, rather than it being the flower itself? What made the
orchid head in that direction in the first place?

Personally, I think it is just interesting to discuss the options. It just
seems so odd for such specialised items to appear naturally without any
awareness of surroundings.

Cheers.

Paul Tyerman

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From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.02.01 at 07:02:17(8118)
but the natural chances of a particular vine producing
>nodules that mimic the eggs of their only predator is phenomenally small.
>There has to be some way that they register the presence of these eggs and
>more importantly their COLOUR. Nodules occuring naturally on a wine is
>"relatively" possible I suppose, but then colouring the same colour and
>shade as the eggs? How is this explained? I cannot see any other
>explanation than that they have some method of sensing their surroundings
>in a far more thorough method than we realise, including colours.

The explination is that these chance differences are chosen out, not in
thousands of years but over billions of years. Many, Many trial and error
scenarios may occur over such a time period.

Neil

From: Durightmm at aol.com on 2002.02.01 at 08:04:01(8120)
These scientific explanations make sense to scientist but not always to non scientist. For example we seem to be losing sight of the topic "sense" Writers want to know "How" an organism "knows" it's surroundings. How does the vine know. it's peers are being eaten. How does the crab know to design it's nodules to discourage harvesting. How did Amorphos morph their flowers to attract sprecific beetle to pollinate each species. Isn't it wonderful that we have yet to unravel mysteries. and have additional topics for aroidl Joe

From: Iza & Carol Goroff goroff at idcnet.com> on 2002.02.01 at 13:07:20(8121)
Two very separate phenomena are presented here.
1. The crab does not "know" to present a helmet design. only from a
large population are the few which look most like a helmet are chosen.
That's evolution.
2. An already evolved plant has evolved mechanisms to seek those factors
which it needs for its individual survival (for the propagation of more
of its species), such as seeking water, and perhaps "smelling" and seeking
nitrogenous materials. These mechanisms include phototropism, geotropism,
and in vines seeking their support through reverse phototropism.
Neither implies a sixth sense in the sense of "knowing".
Iza Goroff
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From: Jill Bell jbell_buxton at yahoo.com> on 2002.02.01 at 13:10:00(8122)
Hey,
Do any of you remember the book (from the seventies)
called the Secret Life of Plants? It was based on lie
detector experimentation done on plants to test their
"feelings" about things, done by Robert Baxter, an
ex-FBI agent?
Jill

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From: Piabinha at aol.com on 2002.02.01 at 13:10:56(8123)
> The explination is that these chance differences are chosen out, not in
> thousands of years but over billions of years. Many, Many trial and error
> scenarios may occur over such a time period.

billions? all you need are thousands of years. the speciation of haplochromine cichlids in lake victoria (from one species to over 300 species) took just a few thousand years. a blink of an eye in biological time.

tsuh yang

From: Betsy Feuerstein ecuador at midsouth.rr.com> on 2002.02.01 at 14:13:20(8125)
What is 'knowing?' Could an answer be in the interpretation of the meaning
of the word, knowing? To know, does one have to have a brain, a mind? Or
may 'knowing' be seen as something more inclusive?
Food for thought, nothing more, nothing less.
Betsy
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From: "Plantsman" plantsman at prodigy.net> on 2002.02.01 at 20:46:49(8126)
----- Original Message -----
To: "Multiple recipients of list AROID-L"
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 10:02 AM
Subject: Re: Plants The sixth sense
:
: The explination is that these chance differences are chosen out,
not in
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From: Durightmm at aol.com on 2002.02.01 at 20:48:07(8127)
Knowing is awareness and so far there is no indication plabts are aware. How can that be measured? Perhaps in time plants will reveal that. Rregardless no one should be less in awe at these fantastic creatures. And I expect a challenge to that last one. Joe

From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.02.01 at 20:48:29(8129)
>
>I think it is highly unlikely that ANY permutation of an Amorphophallus
>(for example) is going to head in the direction of looking like the fly
>that pollinates it, regardless of how many million years you leave it.

No, but it certainly has developed a smell which the fly that pollinates is
highly attracted to. Pollination is not the only character that would be
subject to natural selection. Large leaves are selected for plants which are
perpetually in low light to gather more light. Those with small leaves were
left behind.

So
>why does a particular orchid look so much like it's pollinator to the point
>that you can mistakenly at a first glance think that it is a wasp sitting
>on the flower, rather than it being the flower itself? What made the
>orchid head in that direction in the first place?

They did not chose what direction to go in, they only develop and change in
the direction that their environments choose. Sometimes mutations and/or
hybrid swarms may develop and stabilize into a new spieces, thus skipping
several tens of thousands of years of natural selection. Orchids that are
pollinated by 'pseudocopulation' (bug mimics) are at the cutting edge of
millions of years of evolution. When you think of the sheer legth of time
(millions of years) that these plants had to try out the various
combinations and permutaions...it is not such a stretch.

The point that natural selection can be sped along by chance mutations or
hybridizations also shows that time can be compressed and many combinations
and permutations are skipped over. But the survivors still have to survive.
Sudden geological changes can also promote new "trys" at evolution.

The inundation of the Panamanian Isthmus was not that long ago in
evolutionary time, yet due to the isolation of many mountain tops into
islands, a great deal of endemism occured there in a short (realitivly
speaking) time.

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From: araceae at earthlink.net on 2002.02.01 at 20:48:40(8130)
Title: Re: Plants The sixth sense

"Knowing"??? Try, in this instance, the biblical
definition... It is part of 'natural selection'.
Dewey

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From: "julius boos" ju-bo at msn.com> on 2002.02.02 at 08:23:15(8133)
> The explination is that these chance differences are chosen out, not in
> thousands of years but over billions of years. Many, Many trial and error
> scenarios may occur over such a time period.

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From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.02.02 at 08:24:26(8134)
>You may call me old fashioned, but I have a hard time swallowing
>that "evolutionary" events of this type cover billions of years. I
>find it hard to imagine that the earth's distance from the sun
>wouldn't have changed over such a long time span. Small amounts,
>either closer or nearer, would prohibit life as we know it from
>existing. Thermodynamics.

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From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.02.02 at 08:24:38(8135)
THis time factor seems to be tripping us up in this thread. Evolution or
Natural Selection takes place over a very long time (in earth terms). Lets
take an average orchid time from seed to flower....say aprox 5years for a
fast one and about 9 or 10 years for the very slowest................

In 100 years you would have a possible ten generations.
In 1000 years 100 generations
In1,000,000 years 100,000 generations.

THat's a lot of generations but,
1 million years is still not a very long time.

Man is estimated to have been on earth many millions of years.

Still this is not a very long time. Plants have a lot of patience since they
have nothing to think about.

Plants have no nervous system, their environments cause them to live or die.
If they are equipted to live they live and procreate, if they are not
equiped to live they die and they do not procreate.

Whether we believe in natural selection or not.....plants and animals have
no choice but to die if they are not able to survive. The plants and animals
that are able to survive, reproduce and pass on their traits to their
offspring. Plants that do not survive do not pass on their traits because
they cannot produce offspring when they are dead.

Again, time alows for many 'experiments', mutations, combinations and
permutations. Mutations, stabilized hybrid swarms, and isolation (islands,
teypuis, mountain tops etc.) might help skip a few evolutionary steps, but
the off spring still must survive the rigors of their
environment......without the aid of a nervous system.

For all but a very small number of higher primates, the plants and animals
of the world are at the mercy of their envirnoments. And that environment
will chose which plant and animal individuals will survive.

there is nothing but compitition on this planet.

Neil

From: Adam Black epiphyte1 at earthlink.net> on 2002.02.02 at 08:25:01(8137)
Though the recent conversation is straying away from aroids and the
original question, I think this is a great discussion going on. I have
some comments to some of the non-aroid examples below. There is relevant
aroid content towards the bottom though!!!!!!!!! Also, I do not intend
to attack anyone's personal beliefs on this sometimes touchy subject.
These are just my opinions based on the evidence most convincing to me.

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From: "Phil Bunch" pbunch at cts.com> on 2002.02.02 at 10:59:34(8141)
I beg to differ here. There are well documented cases of "saltatory
speciation" in annual plants at the xeric margins of their
distributions. These events basically occur in one or two generations
due to a combination of chromosomal translocation and founder effects
in small populations. Some known examples are morphologically distinct
and clearly isolated from hybridization with the parent species. These
have resulted from the chance presence of genes that affect gross
morphology. How many more exist that do not appear different from the
parent species but which are now on a separate evolutionary path?

BTW: I don't think this mechanism has been shown to occur in
perennials nor would it be likely to.

Phil Bunch

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From: "Phil Bunch" pbunch at cts.com> on 2002.02.02 at 10:59:45(8142)
> Plantsman wrote:
>
> >
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From: William Perez free.willie at verizon.net> on 2002.02.02 at 11:00:01(8143)
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Neil Carroll"
> To: "Multiple recipients of list AROID-L"
> Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 10:02 AM
> Subject: Re: Plants The sixth sense
> :
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From: "Harry Witmore" harrywitmore at witmore.net> on 2002.02.02 at 11:00:39(8146)
Adam said:
Very true!!!! We can only make "educated" guesses based on what little
evidence we have, and what seems remotely plausable, assuming the
evidence is being analyzed correctly.

I believe that understanding the fossil record is like taking 10,000 grains
of sand from a beach and then try to theorize what they all look like. If
you happened to sample a spot that had of black sand you might believe that
black sand dominated the entire beach.
I think many people forget that all this is an educated guess and may in
fact be completely wrong. I think all life adapts to conditions by a game of
chance called natural selection. It works good for me but doesn't mean I
think it's correct either.

Harry Witmore

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2002.02.03 at 08:40:26(8149)
In a message dated Fri, 1 Feb 2002 10:02:35 AM Eastern Standard Time, Krzysztof Kozminski writes:

> The ones with nodules of wrong color/shape got eaten by the predators
> before they managed to set seed, and aren't seen much any more....
>
Or, to be more precise (since presumably the ancestral population had no nodules, and was eaten) those with no nodules, or the wrong nodules, were weakened by the predator, and set fewer seeds than those with the right nodules. This is the biggest fallacy I see in creation science: they take an all-or-nothing approach, when in fact, nature is full of many degrees of success. After all, we must still ask why other plants of the same genus, with the same predator, still exist without nodules?

Jason Hernandez

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2002.02.03 at 08:40:47(8150)
In a message dated Fri, 1 Feb 2002 11:04:31 AM Eastern Standard Time, Durightmm@aol.com writes:

> These scientific explanations make sense to scientist but not always to non scientist. For example we seem to be losing sight of the topic "sense" Writers want to know "How" an organism "knows" it's surroundings. How does the vine know. it's peers are being eaten?

It doesn't need to. It need only do the best it can at surviving and setting seed itself. If others are getting eaten, then they will have a disadvantage relative to the one not being eaten, as all try their own best to survive. But, if a plant being eaten produces defensive compounds, these may be detected by nearby plants, who can then respond with their own defenses before being attacked themselves. This is easier to understand when one realizes that even our own senses are essentially chemical in nature: we smell by detecting particles in the air, which trigger certain chemical reactions in the olfactory centers of our brains. Plants, of course, having neither noses nor brains, do this in a less-centralized way, over large areas of their bodies.

Jason Hernandez

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2002.02.03 at 08:41:08(8151)
In a message dated Fri, 1 Feb 2002 11:47:38 PM Eastern Standard Time, "Plantsman" writes:

> Just to add fuel to the fire: I heard awhile back that some
> scientists hypothesize that basically all species alive today have
> always been around and other, less flexible cousins became extinct
> for various reasons over time. Perhaps most ancient plants and
> animals will always be unknown due to fossilization never occurring
> or never being found. We may have only discovered a tiny amount of
> species that have existed and just got lucky with what we have.
> Scientists can't even agree on the dating methods of fossils. In
> any event, I don't think we'll ever know for sure. I just have
> faith in the Original Designer's handiwork.
>
> Please no flames, just thoughtful discussion.

No flames here; I grew up Creationist, so I know from whence you are coming. You are close to right in that all known animal phyla have been found as early as the Cambrian (phyla are the basic groups, e.g., arthropoda, chordata [which includes all vertebrates as well as several marine invertebrates], echinodermata). But within those phyla, we do see change over time, which is all evolution really means (we can speak of the evolution of human societies, of languages, of technologies, in exactly the same way; we know that all today's Romance languages evolved from classical Latin).

How do I reconcile belief in evolution with belief in religion? Perhaps evolution is one of the created laws of the universe, like thermodynamics. Just a thought.

Jason Hernandez

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From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2002.02.03 at 08:41:29(8152)
In a message dated Sat, 2 Feb 2002 11:25:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, Neil Carroll writes:

> Actually a simple experiment which can naturally choose over a short period
> of time is given in many basic texts on the subject....that is .......
> the dandylions in your lawn eventually only flower on short peduncles
> because the mower keeps cutting off the ones with long peduncles.

On the same note, I have seen a frequently-moved lawn on which wild carrot (Daucus carota) was flowering essentially at ground level. If you have seen the height of a "typical" wild carrot, this is indeed astonishing. If this is a true Darwinian evolution, one has to ask, how did the latent genes for shortness survive long enough to manifest, if the plants were constantly being mowed down before reaching flowering height? Or, perhaps it is not a true evolutionary event; perhaps the plants are showing abnormal behavior triggered by stress. Had I time and space enough, I could collect seeds from these dwarfed plants, plant them in a situation without mowing, and see whether the resulting seedlings (1) remain dwarfed, indicating a true Darwinian change; or (2) revert to the typical tall form (perhaps with some cytoplasmic stunting), indicating stress behavor on the part of the parents.

Jason Hernandez

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From: William Perez free.willie at verizon.net> on 2002.02.03 at 08:44:22(8160)
>>
> Descent with modification!
>
> Read 'The Panda's Thumb" by Stephen Jay Gould. Or any of his books, for
> that matter.
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From: Iza & Carol Goroff goroff at idcnet.com> on 2002.02.03 at 14:19:19(8163)
There is more than one way to discourage predators, or more generally to ensure a species survival. Perhaps after the species gained its separate identity it evolved that defense while other species evolved their own defenses and reproductive strategies. Each defense has its own costs, both in terms of energy and diversion of other resources from other possible defenses and reproduction increases. The species' environment and the selection it brings helps decide which strategies are optimal.

Iza Goroff

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