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  Thoughts Inspired By Black Anthurium
From: Jason Hernandez <jason.hernandez74 at yahoo.com> on 2015.03.02 at 05:04:15(23238)
I fell
behind on reading the last issue of Aroideana, so it was only just
today that I read Tom's article on "black" Anthuriums. He notes that
the known species are all in different sections, hence the black spathe
is a plesiomorphic trait (that is, inherited from a common ancestor). I
wonder about that -- why he believes it is plesiomorphic rather than
homoplastic (that is, the result of convergence). He noted that the
black-spathed species all come from Colombia and Ecuador, at higher
elevations where the climate is more temperate. To me, this suggests at
least the possibility of homoplasy, if, as Tom suggests, the dark color
allows the inflorescences to collect heat and become warmer than their

set my mind thinking down this path was the memory of visiting
Micronesia in 2008. One of the four main islands is Pohnpei, and
Pohnpei is odd in that six of its 19 resident birds, 32%, in four
different families, are either black, or give the impression of being
black, and most have close relatives that are not black. There is
nothing so unusual about the island swiftlet's color, since swifts as a
group tend to be dark, but that is just the beginning. The Pohnpei lory
is the only parrot in Micronesia, and is such a dark purple as to
appear black; other lories of the world are in reds and greens. The
mostly-black Micronesian starling occurs on several of the islands
besides Pohnpei, but there is a second, endemic species, the Pohnpei
mountain starling, that is even blacker. The two Pachycephalidae, the
Palau fantail and the Palau flycatcher, are also both black, but in both
cases, the nearest relative is other colors: the other fantails in
Micronesia are shades of brown or rufous, and the other three Myiagra
flycathcers throughout Micronesia are only blue-black on the upperparts
of the males, which are white and rufous below. I remember wondering at
the time, what was it about the environment in Pohnpei that caused its
birds to evolve black coloring, in contrast to those of neighbor
islands? Now I have the same wonderment about Tom's "black" Anthuriums.

Jason Hernandez



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